The last big growth opportunity for mobile devices is in the medical field. Mobile is already a powerhouse for communication, entertainment, and as an information hub, but the work is still in progress to make medical devices more mobile. We've seen theoretical work, but this story is a pretty impressive practical application, because scientists were able to use a hacked-together iPhone microscope to diagnose intestinal worms in Pemba Island, off the coast of Tanzania.
The scientists converted the iPhone into a microscope by putting double-sided tape over the camera lens, then piercing a hole in the tape and placing a small $9 lens over the existing camera lens. The flashlight was used for illumination, the double-sided tape held the stool sample slides in place, and the image on the phone's screen was studied for intestinal parasites. It isn't a perfect system, but it was able to diagnose 70% of the infections compared to a conventional laboratory microscope. In many cases that may just be good enough, but more importantly, it is a very inexpensive option.
Africa is an emerging market, and inexpensive smartphones have been huge in many areas there (as we've talked about before
). Mobile phones have already been amazing for local trade, microtransactions, and even the arts, and more medical options can only be a good thing.