Accurate and prompt diagnosis of diseases including malaria, giardiasis, African sleeping sickness, and chagas is critical if we are to reduce the millions of deaths per year that these illnesses cause. The most essential piece of equipment to illuminate rapid diagnosis is the microscope.
First introduced in 1800, it hasn’t changed much since then, it’s still heavy, awkward, clunky, difficult to transport, expensive, and requires training to use. It’s a piece of equipment that is clearly not well suited to work in developing countries with limited budgets and rough working conditions.
Two of physicist Manu Prakash’s students in his Stanford University research lab took on the challenge. They developed a paper-based foldable microscope that costs just 50 cents. Perhaps even more amazing is that it is infinitely more durable than a traditional microscope. And they took it even further, developing more than one kind to provide access to multiple lens types for a variety of diagnoses. Their engineering ingenuity illuminates lifesaving opportunities for millions of people worldwide, for mere pennies.
They didn’t stop there. The students produced this with no written instructions to circumvent language barriers and instead used simple color coding to illustrate how to put it together. The microscope accepts standard slides just as any other microscope would.
Instead of a box, or crate if several traditional microscopes were being shipped, the read to assemble punch out microscopes can be delivered in an envelope or a mere file folder, and no complex use instructions are necessary. At the time of his TEDtalk, June 2012, they were going to press with thousands for the first time to use in trials around the world, astounding, ingenious, and lifesaving all for a price less than a cup of coffee.
Watch Manu Prakash’s talk below to hear about this life-saving creation.
A success strategist, speaker, and author, Melissa Galt inspires, leads, and coaches entrepreneurs into achieving outrageous success and building an awesome life.