A small digital microscope that costs just a few dollars can plug into a cell phone and perform basic medical diagnostics that would ordinarily require expensive lab equipment. The microscope, which uses no lenses, saves on cost and weight by using algorithms to get more information from images. The device can generate blood counts and identify disease cells and bacteria from simple images sent through a USB cord to a cell phone that uses software to processes the data. The latest version of the microscope integrates an interference-based contrast method to provide better images in addition to diagnostic information.
If Apple would make it easier to create device interfaces and software for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, I could see it launching a revolution in low-cost medical diagnostic equipment and a whole host of other scientific instrumentation. Other smartphone manufacturers might be able to do the same thing, but the ubiquity and user-interface of the iPhone would make it ideal. It would be nice to see Apple teaming up with researchers to develop this kind of technology.