\(\mu \)SmartScope: Towards a Fully Automated 3D-Printed Smartphone Microscope with Motorized Stage
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Microscopic examination is the reference diagnostic method for several neglected tropical diseases. However, its quality and availability in rural endemic areas is often limited by the lack of trained personnel and adequate equipment. These drawbacks are closely related with the increasing interest in the development of computer-aided diagnosis systems, particularly distributed solutions that provide access to complex diagnosis in rural areas. In this work we present our most recent advances towards the development of a fully automated 3D-printed smartphone microscope with a motorized stage, termed \(\mu \)SmartScope. The developed prototype allows autonomous acquisition of a pre-defined number of images at 1000x magnification, by using a motorized automated stage fully powered and controlled by a smartphone, without the need of manual focus. In order to validate the prototype as a reliable alternative to conventional microscopy, we evaluated the \(\mu \)SmartScope performance in terms of: resolution; field of view; illumination; motorized stage performance (mechanical movement precision/resolution and power consumption); and automated focus. These results showed similar performances when compared with conventional microscopy, plus the advantage of being low-cost and easy to use, even for non-experts in microscopy. To extract these results, smears infected with blood parasites responsible for the most relevant neglected tropical diseases were used. The acquired images showed that it was possible to detect those agents through images acquired via the \(\mu \)SmartScope, which clearly illustrate the huge potential of this device, specially in developing countries with limited access to healthcare services.
KeywordsMicroscopy Mobile devices Motorized microscope stage Developing countries Mobile health
We would like to acknowledge the financial support from North Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE 2020), Portugal 2020 and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) from European Union through the project ‘Deus ex Machina: Symbiotic Technology for Societal Efficiency Gains’, NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000026.
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