A marketing catchphrase for the iPhone was, “There’s an app for that.” I’m pretty sure there was never an app that could detect malaria, plus one for Windows Phone 7.
Lifelens introduces an innovative point-of-care smartphone application to address child mortality rates caused by the lack of detection and availability of treatment for malaria. The solution has immense potential to reduce the cost of diagnosis and enable children around the world to be treated with the current amount of funding.
The Lifelens team states that child mortality rates “remain unacceptably high” on their official Web site. They go on to say that there are over 1 million deaths a year attributed to malaria.
The current test for malaria, the rapid diagnostic test, is highly inaccurate. The incidence of false positives sit at 60 percent. Each false positive results in medication being delivered to somebody who does not need it – wasting a dosage.
Lifelens was built to combat that through a “robust mobile diagnostic solution” for malaria patients. The app aims to “digitally characterize anemia, visualize blood cell rupture and parasites, and provide three dimensional modeling of cells through single image acquisition of low-volume blood smears by peripheral finger pricks.”
In short, as explained by Neowin, a blood sample is placed on to a dye that only malaria parasites can absorb. The Windows Phone then steps in to take a picture with a 350x modified lens. The app analyzes the sample using the team’s algorithm to determine if the person has malaria.
They claim that Lifelens can be operated by anybody with a basic knowledge of cell phones. This way, they can send devices to people in afflicted areas who have no special training or language skills.
Microsoft awarded the Lifelens team $75,000 to continue their work. The money will also help the team make sure the devices get delivered to the areas that need them the most.