A research team at the University of California, Berkeley, has developed an attachment that turns a camera phone into a microscope, reports The Economist.
The CellScope, which snaps directly onto the phone, uses commercially available lenses fitted inside a tube with a clip on one end to hold a slide sample. The microscope supports different levels of magnification and can show individual white and red blood cells - which means, for example, it can be used to ID the parasite that causes malaria. The user could use the camera feature on the handset to capture the slide image and send it to an expert for diagnosis.
The project has attracted attention from big names like Nokia and Microsoft, the latter of which has supplied some cam-phones with GPS devices for the project. Possible apps being looked at, besides detecting malaria parasites, include cancer patients submitting cell counts by phone, and remote crop diagnostics for farmers.