Imagine This! A phone app to diagnose malaria

imageThis week on Microsoft Health Tech Today we report on some amazing work by graduate students at UC Davis. Wilson To and his colleagues have come up with a smartphone app that helps medical workers in the field diagnose malaria. And, this isn’t the first time on our show that we’ve profiled these brilliant young scientists and engineers.

imageWe first met Wilson To last season on Health Tech Today. Wilson and his team from UC Davis had been named as one of two winners in the U.S. Imagine Cup competition for software design sponsored by Microsoft. The Imagine Cup is a world competition that challenges students to design innovative tech solutions for some of the world’s biggest problems. Wilson told us about his team’s award winning idea called Mobilife. Using a smartphone they were able to take photographs of the conjunctiva (white portion) of an individual’s eyes. An algorithm was then used to measure the tortuosity of the blood vessels in the conjunctiva. This provided useful information about the microcirculation of the body. As a screening test, it can help identify children and adults who might be at risk for chronic conditions such as sickle cell anemia, hypertension, diabetes, or even Alzheimer’s disease. The technology was designed to be inexpensive and simple to use. A trained field worker in remote villages or rural locations can gather accurate data making it possible to screen and refer high-risk individuals for additional medical evaluation and treatment.

imageimageNot content to rest on their laurels, this award winning team came up with yet another idea for the 2011 Imagine Cup. And once again, it is designed to help medical workers in the field. This time, the smartphone is used to screen blood samples for the parasites that cause malaria. On our program, Wilson To shows us how the new application called “lifelens” works.

Here are a few screen shots of the app, and also a short promo for the show. Be sure to stop by the Health Tech Today landing page on Tuesday, June 14th, to see this inspirational story. 

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Imagine Cup 2011 “lifelens”

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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