The power of the modern smartphone appears to know no bounds – and the proof is a new app that will analyse blood samples. The app – called Athelas – uses a camera lens attachment that can magnify images enough so that blood cells can be analysed by specially-created software.
Users take a photo of their blood, which is then uploaded to the app’s servers where blood cells are identified and counted, leading to a diagnosis. Athelas was awarded a prize at a coding event held by start-up Y Combinator, where developers came together to create new software in a time limit. The events are known as hackathons.
Airbnb, Reddit and Dropbox all started at the same event in previous years.
However, health experts have warned that a smartphone camera can not replicate the power of electron microscopes used to identify diseases.
According to doctors, who used the example of the ongoing Ebola crisis in Africa, some patients in the early stages of the illness will not have enough of the virus in their blood for it to be diagnosed.
The app remains a prototype for now, but following the hackathon victory, the team behind Athelas will now receive funding to accelerate their progress.