CellScope aims to solve sickness in developing world, wins Intel contest

The CellScope could make a huge difference to treatment of the sick in the developing world -- and it all starts with the humble mobile phone

What's this gizmo? Another ridiculous lens thing for bolting on the front of your phone to beef up that pitiful 2-megapixel camera? Actually, no: it's the CellScope, which turns a normal mobile phone -- in this case, a rather venerable Nokia N73 -- into a microscope. Limited access to microscopy in the developing world makes this a handy tool for diagnosing diseases like tuberculosis and malaria.

The CellScope works with handhelds and even netbooks. The really clever bit is that it wirelessly transmits patient data to clinical centres, allowing the patient to be evaluated remotely and treatment suggested. Developed by Daniel Fletcher, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, the device could also be used for home monitoring of patients in the developed world.

The CellScope is one of four winners of the Inspire Empower Challenge, announced at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing. More than 200 ideas were proposed by developers -- ranging from individuals to NGOs to companies -- all tackling education, healthcare, environmental or economic problems in developing countries.

The other winners were the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative, which connects cassava farmers with laptops, the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom in Uganda, and the Rural Livelihood Enhancement project, which aims to set up computer labs in Nepal that run off hydro-electric power.

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