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Cellphone Becomes Medical Image Device

DAVIS, Calif., Oct. 3 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve transformed an iPhone into a high-quality medical imaging device that could transform medicine in developing countries.

Using only inexpensive materials, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have modified smartphones to perform detailed microscopy, a release from the Optical Society of America said Monday.

Kaiqin Chu, a postdoctoral researcher in optics, inserted a $40 ball lens — a finely ground glass sphere that acts as a low-powered magnifying glass — into a hole in a rubber sheet, and then simply taped the sheet over the smartphone’s camera.

Paired with the phone’s camera, the ball lens can resolve features on the order of 1.5 microns, small enough to identify different types of blood cells, researchers said.

The enhanced phones could help doctors and nurses diagnose blood diseases in developing nations where many hospitals and rural clinics have limited or no access to laboratory equipment — and can send the real-time data to colleagues around the globe for further analysis and diagnosis — the researchers said.


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