CellScope is a UC Berkeley project designed to enable microscopic image captures from a cell phone's camera. At first it might sound like a pointlessly geeky project to do microscopy on a cell phone, but in fact it has important applications for mobile health services in remote areas. In some areas of sub-Saharan Africa and other developing areas of the world, access to health care of any kind is scarce, and it often falls upon poorly-equipped doctors or volunteers to take up the slack.
Since health care equipment is generally expensive to begin with, outfitting even a low-power microscope with a wireless transmitter capable of communicating with doctors at a remote location could easily run into the thousands of dollars. Not only that, but the equipment itself would likely be bulky, temperamental, and easily damaged. That's where CellScope comes in. Via an attachment, CellScope can turn a standard cell phone camera into a 5x to 50x microscope, essentially creating a miniaturized blood lab that can capture images and transmit them far more cheaply than traditional equipment.
The iPhone 4 pictured above (courtesy of Scott Silverman) isn't the first mobile phone to be hooked into the CellScope rig, but with its high-quality camera and extensive photo sharing abilities, it might end up being the best mobile device for the job. Plus, viewing microscopic images on a Retina Display sounds like a great alternative to peering into one of those microscope eyepieces. This obviously won't replace traditional setups in a fully-equipped laboratory, but for the kind of remote and rural applications that CellScope covers, it sounds like an ideal solution.