Saturday, 12 October 2013

3D-printed smartphone mounts for photomicroscopy

We've been trying out some designs for adapters to attach phones with cameras to microscopes. The idea is that the computer vision needed to do malaria detection, like this, could be quite achievable on a phone if the optics can be worked out. 3D printing is useful, because customised mounts can be produced on spec for any combination of phone and microscope model.

The prototype model looks like this:

Here is a phone (ZTE Blade) mounted on the left eyepiece of a microscope using the printed adapter. A Motic microscope camera is on the right eyepiece.

This is a sample image obtained from the setup above. The big blobs are white blood cells, the small dots are malaria parasites (this is a case of extreme parasitemia). The image was taken at 1000x magnification with oil immersion.

We still need to find ways to reduce the field of view, to get better detail of parasite objects; from the images we're getting at the moment, it looks as though parasite detection is feasible, but accuracy would be limited. If issues like this can be ironed out, such a system could be significant in Uganda, where there are plenty of smartphones and microscopes, but few laboratory experts. This study, for example, found that 50% of rural health centres in Kabarole district had microscopes, but only 17% had a trained technician able to use them.

Thanks to Kenan Pollack and Sandeep Patel at OmusonoLabs for handling the printing!