Malaria TV: Low Cost, Collaborative Diagnostics
A couple of researchers at the University of Toronto have come up with remote diagnostic tool – Malaria TV – that they funded out of their own pocket. It seems a fair amount of infrastructure is needed, but this set up allows for remote diagnosing for various diseases which I am guessing will be restricted to mostly urban areas in developing countries. I am curious what the bandwidth requirement is on the either end. One positive is that this is another tool that can be utilized and can hopefully slightly mitigate the healthcare worker shortage in developing regions:
“Malaria TV, designed by three researchers at the University of Toronto’s Laboratory for Collaborative Diagnostics (LCD), can be cobbled together from a bunch of everyday tech tools. The Malaria TV project is an example of how public health tools can be designed, developed and delivered using: 1) collaboration technologies like Access Grid; 2) commodity or cheap computation gear and 3) generic public health lab microscopes and CCD cameras.”
“The newly developed system can enable remote detection of HIV and tuberculosis and more importantly will allow a diagnostician to view in real time the blood sample of a patient in another part of the country or the world. Using cheap, readily available components and open source software, West Suhanic, executive director and an IT consultant, and Peter Pennefather, a professor of pharmaceutical science and the lab’s academic director, have built a prototype diagnosis tool. The equipment is basically a jury-rigged piece of hardware consisting of a PC that can capture images from any medical microscope using a TV tuner card and broadcast them over an Internet connection. A doctor in one city who isn’t sure if the sample he or she is looking at is actually malaria can consult with someone like Crandall for an expert diagnosis.”
“Suhanic added that “we’re just trying to develop all of our tools around open source” in order to keep costs down and allow anyone in the world to use it without having to worry about using proprietary technology or software licensing issues. He says Malaria TV is an example of commodity engineering, in that specific components used to create the system are accessible pretty much anywhere: a generic PC, some form of network connectivity, a microscope and a digital camera.” Full Story.