Students Create Smartphone App Capable of Detecting Malaria
The team, comprised of students from around the nation, developed the prototype using a Samsung Focus smartphone, running Windows 7. After adding a microscopic camera lens to the phone, the students developed software capable of analyzing and scanning blood for malaria parasites. With the app installed on the phone, doctors or nurses could theoretically take a photo of any blood sample, and instantly know whether or not a patient is infected with malaria, and how severe the case may be.
Users wouldn't even need an Internet connection to use the app -- a detail that could pay major dividends for health care professionals working in remote areas of the world, where connectivity is scarce, and malaria can be particularly devastating.
Tristan Gibeau, a 25-year-old computer engineering student at the University of Central Florida, designed the team's software, and has high hopes for where it could lead. He's hoping to develop similar apps to detect sickle cell and other diseases, and wants to make the software more compatible with microscopic technology used in most labs.
For the moment, though, he's only concerned about competing in this weekend's Imagine Cup 2011 -- a Microsoft-sponsored event where contestants are invited to "imagine a world where technology helps solve the world's toughest problems." Gibeau and his team are in the finals, thanks to their app.
"It's going to make a difference in trying to contain the outbreak of malaria," Gibeau told Reuters. "In the big picture, it'll hopefully help in the fight against most diseases out there and make everybody's life a little easier."