Dr.Isaac I. Bogoch has converted his Apple iPhone 4S into a field microscope using a small ball lens, which costs around $8. Combined with the lens, phone camera can magnify the object nearly 50 times.
Bogoch and his colleagues put the set up to test in detecting intestinal worms in children of rural Tanzania. They used it as a part of larger clinical trial, which is aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment of intestinal infections.
Researchers examined the stool samples of 199 children. The samples were kept on a microscope slide, covered with cellophane and then attached to iPhone using tapes. Flash light was used to illuminate the slide.
With this set up, researchers were able to detect 70% of the worm infections compared to the 87% accuracy of conventional microscope.
The scientists are fine-tuning the design to achieve a detection rate of 80%.
"The ultimate goal is ensuring that people have appropriate quality of care regardless of where they live and regardless of their socio-economic status," says Bogoch.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.