Low-cost mobile phone microscopy with a reversed mobile phone camera lens

PLoS One. 2014 May 22;9(5):e95330. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095330. eCollection 2014.


The increasing capabilities and ubiquity of mobile phones and their associated digital cameras offer the possibility of extending low-cost, portable diagnostic microscopy to underserved and low-resource areas. However, mobile phone microscopes created by adding magnifying optics to the phone's camera module have been unable to make use of the full image sensor due to the specialized design of the embedded camera lens, exacerbating the tradeoff between resolution and field of view inherent to optical systems. This tradeoff is acutely felt for diagnostic applications, where the speed and cost of image-based diagnosis is related to the area of the sample that can be viewed at sufficient resolution. Here we present a simple and low-cost approach to mobile phone microscopy that uses a reversed mobile phone camera lens added to an intact mobile phone to enable high quality imaging over a significantly larger field of view than standard microscopy. We demonstrate use of the reversed lens mobile phone microscope to identify red and white blood cells in blood smears and soil-transmitted helminth eggs in stool samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Cells / cytology
  • Cell Phone / economics
  • Cell Phone / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Helminths / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Lenses / economics
  • Microscopy / economics
  • Microscopy / instrumentation*

Grants and funding

This work was supported by grants from Microsoft Research, Intel Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Blum Center at UC Berkeley. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.