Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new, relatively inexpensive alternative to medical imaging using a cell phone. Bioengineering professor Boris Rubinsky and his team have designed a portable medical scanner that can be plugged into a mobile phone which can gather and transmit X-ray or ultrasound data to an external, remote computer processor. After the processor converts the raw data, it immediately sends the imaging back to the cellphone screen for analysis.

Rubinsky’s machine is a drastically cheaper ($1,000 versus $70,000 for a traditional ultrasound machine) and easier way to perform medical scanning. The scanners currently being used in hospitals consist of many large and expensive parts (a computer, video monitor and scanner); these new portable scanners could not only cut down costs for hospitals in the US, but also change the state of healthcare in developing countries and rural areas without easy access to expensive scanning machinery.

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