The Wednesday Post (14/07/2010)

Sometimes you just realise that you’re living in the future. Got 10 bucks and a mobile phone? You could have your very own microscope with video function. A team from UCLA have created a $10 add-on to your phone that turns it into a high-powered microscope, which can see things down to 2 micrometres (though they’re thinking that as phone cameras get better, they can get this down to less than one micrometre). Just to give you some perspective, a red blood cell is around 10 micrometres in diameter.

What this invention means is that any lab around the world (even the very poorest) will be able to afford a microscope. It also means that health care workers can easily to take a microscope out into the field and see immediately whether a water source is infested with parasites or not. You’ll be able to look at people’s blood counts, platelet counts, etc. either by eye or potentially downloading an app to do it for you. You can easily MMS the photos back to a central computer where they can start doing epidemiology calculations straight away. There are probably hundreds of potential applications for a cheap, light, mobile microscope that are just waiting for their chance to break loose. Just waiting for my flying car now…


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