It is being hailed as a potential health revolution, particularly for those living in rural areas – the CellScope, a device that can turn a cell phone into a microscope, enabling consumers to make their own diagnoses.
The team behind the device, which has been created as part of the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program at the University of California at Berkley, is now at a crucial stage. As Dan Fletcher, a key member of the team who is also a professor of bio-engineering at the University, admits, the CellScope device works in the controlled conditions of a laboratory. So the time has come to see if it will work on cell phones in the real world, and whether the ordinary consumer will be able to use it simply and correctly. “We’re getting this out of the lab and into people’s hands,” Fletcher says, noting that those in rural communities could set up a ‘tele-medicine kiosk’ and use the CellScope device for blood tests and other diagnoses and then send the information off straight away to trained physicians who can immediately evaluate the results. “We see this mobile microscope, this CellScope, as one of the tools to bring high quality health care to rural communities,” Fletcher notes. “This really has to be valuable to rural clinics. We want to make sure that the kinds of tests that can be run really are of value to patients and to the local entrepreneurs.” Fletcher says that the marketing model they are hoping to use will hopefully be put in place by the end of 2010.