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July 22, 2009

N73 more than just a cameraphone

SAN FRANCISCO, USA reports that bio engineers working in the University of California in San Francisco have come up with a system to aid disease detection in developing countries using a Nokia N73. The device is one part of an apparatus the team developed which enables medical staff to photograph blood samples before sending them over the Internet for analysis. The team believe that images of malaria-infected blood captured by the device are good enough to detect the disease.

The proliferation of mobile networks in developing countries means the system has real potential, enabling local medical staff to send images to laboratories for analysis. If images are geotagged and the patients’ details are included, it could also be possible to monitor the spread of the disease.

The system the team in San Francisco has developed uses a light microscope with an additional battery-powered LED lamp, all attached to a Nokia N73. This offers a relatively inexpensive way for this kind of analysis to be carried out in developing countries.

Scientists are also hoping to develop annotation systems which will enable local staff to highlight suspect images before sending them off for analysis.

I wrote last week about what else a phone could do for us. This seems like a pretty powerful example of use that could make a monumental difference to a lot of people’s lives.

Thanks to Conversations reader Kensai for the tip and the link to NewScientist and the original journal report. Check out for images.