The modification gives the device clinical-grade performance and could help clinicians diagnose blood-borne diseases.
Scientists from the University of California-Davis have modified the iPhone to enable its use in microscopy and spectroscopy. The modification, which was the subject of a presentation at the Optical Society of America in October, gives the device clinical-grade performance and could help clinicians diagnose blood-borne diseases.
This isn’t the first microscope created using a smartphone, but Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu, a physicist with the UC Davis department of pathology and laboratory medicine and the Center for Biophotonics, Science, and Technology, was inspired to create a device that was both simpler and less expensive than similar devices that had been developed previously.
The microscope is capable of resolving features on the order of 1.5 µm. The clinical-grade spectroscope can be made by modifying a normal iPhone with commonly available materials. A 5× ball lense measuring 1 mm in diameter is affixed to a ruber sheet, which is then taped to the phone. The researchers used digital image processing software to compensate for the warping of the image by the ball lens.
The cost of the modification is comparable to that of a typical app from the iTunes store.
The hack could come in handy in rural areas or third-world countries that don’t have access to laboratory equipment. The iPhone’s networking functionality could also be tapped to send the images from the device to networked clinics anywhere in the world.
“Field workers could put a blood sample on a slide, take a picture, and send it to specialists to analyze,” Wachsmann-Hogiu said in a statement.