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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Mobile phone used for monitoring

21st April 2009

Two new medical devices based on mobile phone technology are approaching field testing in developing countries around the world.


The 'CellScope' and the 'CelloPhone' are two phones that won the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project prize, the results of which were recently announced.

They are made out of ordinary mobile phones, but include one twist: they take samples from the bodies of patients and send them to an offsite computer for analysis.

The research team that produced the CelloPhone will use their US$700,000 in prize money to begin field trials later on this year.

Aydogan Ozcan, of the University of California at Los Angeles, said that his research team will use their extant facilities in carrying out trials in Africa, South Asia, and South America.

The other team, which designed the CellScope, also intend to use their prize money in creating and implementing prototypes that are ready for the field.

Based at the University of California at Berkeley, they want to develop ways of diagnosing tuberculosis and malaria that involve the use of mobile phone technology.

Their device makes use of a standard optical microscope attached to a mobile phone, which takes pictures that are sent in to be diagnosed.

The CelloPhone, on the other hand, works by interpreting something in the cells that researchers call a "shadow."

Ozcan said that, on a sunny day, one's shadow would not show much of a picture, but that their shadow contains a certain texture because cells and most bacteria are not fully opaque.

The devices should come in handy in rural areas where health care clinics cannot afford conventional microscopy techniques.

The CelloPhone prototype loads samples of bodily fluids into a modified mobile phone in order to photograph the cells' shadows, then sends the photograph as a multimedia message.

The system, which could also be handy in recording the progress of epidemics, sends the data off to centralised computer systems where they are automatically analysed and diagnosed.

Ozcan said that his device only requires that people buy additional electronics costing somewhere in the range of several dollars.

Vodafone is now testing just how accurately the device diagnoses diseases like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.

David Grimshaw, head of the New Technologies International Programme at Practical Action, said that the technologies are promising because they rely on the proliferation of mobile phone networks in developing countries.

However, he said that socioeconomic conditions must be considered so that people may formulate solutions to local problems.


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