A sample is placed on top of a small image-sensor chip, which uses an Android phone’s LED screen as a light source. The whole device is placed in an incubator, and the image-sensor chip connects to a laptop outside through a wire. As the image sensor snaps pictures of the cells growing in real-time, the laptop stitches hundreds of images together to create a high-resolution picture of what is happening on the dish.
The resolution is similar to a traditional microscope—fine enough to see the contents of cell nuclei. There are a number of advantages that the technology brings. For one each device gets its own microscope and samples can be automatically monitored under a microscope. The low-cost also provides less expensive diagnostic tools. There will come a time when multiple cultures can be grown in their own incubator and not have to be sent to a lab.
The scientific paper describing this advancement can be found at