A low-cost smartphone device being developed at Stanford may enable early diagnosis of oral cancer, with no dentist visits required.
Assistant bioengineering professor Manu Prakash, has developed a way to use smartphones to create detailed images of the oral cavity and screen patients’ mouths for suspicious lesions. The device, which is about the size of a pack of gum, could make it possible for millions of people who live in remote areas to get this imaging done as easily as snapping a photo on a smartphone.
Prakash’s oral cavity scanner, called OScan, consists of a mouth positioner, a circuit board and two rows of fluorescent-light-emitting diodes. It attaches to any smartphone’s built-in camera, and allows an operator — with a quick swipe — to take a high-resolution, panoramic image of a person’s complete mouth cavity. Illuminated by the device’s blue fluorescent light, malignant cancer lesions are detected as dark spots. Images can be sent wirelessly to health workers, dentists or oral surgeons for diagnosis, anywhere in the world. The device is designed for mass production, with an estimated material cost of just a few dollars.
Vodaphone Americas Foundation launched the Wireless Innovation Project in 2009 to make an impact on pressing global problems through innovative wireless solutions. Prakash’s team won the second place award of $200,000 in this category. They were also named the mHealth Alliance Award winner, which comes with an additional $50,000 and networking support from the mHealth Alliance, an organization dedicated to enabling the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world.
The OScan project was funded by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. Stanford University has filed for a patent on this technology.
[Image Courtesy: Stanford University]