This smartphone accessory can see blood parasites, and could save your life

The humble smartphone is being called into action as a potentially life-saving medical device in Africa, where combined with a specially designed microscope accessory, it is testing blood samples for nasty parasitic infections in mere seconds. Existing methods take far longer and involve scientists manually counting worms in a smear of blood, and its extraction requires specialist knowledge to carry out.

Thankfully, the vast majority of us don’t need to worry about blood parasites, but it’s a serious problem in some parts of the world, where the presence of a particular parasite called the Loa Loa worm is stopping treatment of other parasitic diseases such as river blindness and elephantiasis. The problem is, the drug used to treat for these diseases can turn fatal if the patient is badly infected with the Loa Loa worm — making its detection very important.

CellScope LoaThe device is called the CellScope Loa, and consists of a phone attached to a specially made, 3D-printed holder that contains a high power lens, which sits under the camera. In the base is an arduino circuit board, and Bluetooth for connecting to the phone. The blood sample is loaded into the case, and complex algorithms check it for any wriggling worms. The final count is shown on the phone, which tells doctors whether the treatment could potentially be dangerous.

The CellScope Loa is being field tested in Cameroon, Africa, and results taken from the smartphone-based system match the manual worm counts, proving its effectiveness. The test takes less than three minutes in total — including the time it takes to get the blood sample — and the process is completely automated, so training is minimal.

Professor Daniel Fletcher, one of the researchers working on the project, told the BBC this is only the beginning for the technology. He said there are drugs to treat many tropical diseases, but the technology to identify the people who need the right drugs is lacking. In the future, the CellScope camera/microscope could be adapted to test for other diseases, including malaria and TB.

The program is now being expanded to include 40,000 people in the region.

Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."

Lyft’s new rewards program promises ride discounts and comfier cars

If you're always hopping in and out of a Lyft car, then you'll be pleased to hear that the ridesharing service is about to launch a rewards program. Perks include discounts on future trips and upgrades to comfier cars.

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Master your new Nokia 7.1 with our favorite tips and tricks

At $350, the Nokia 7.1 is a nearly perfect budget phone. It has a gorgeous body, good hardware, and a capable camera. Recently purchased the Nokia 7.1? Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S10 could nix the notch in favor of a "punch hole" cutout

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.