Monday, September 15, 2014

Eureka prize for $2 phone microscope

THE inventors of a $2 smartphone microscope and Ebola-fighting resources have won the nation's top gongs at the Oscars of Australian science. 
SYDNEYSIDERS Tri Phan and Steve Lee won the Innovative Use of Technology prize in Sydney at the Eureka Prizes for creating a plastic droplet that can be hooked into smartphones to create a cheap high-powered microscope.

"I think where this will have a lot of potential is in the delivery of medicine to remote and rural communities," said Dr Phan before the awards. "If someone has a suspect-looking mole you could get them to take a magnified image on the phone and send it to a specialist thousands of kilometres away and they could receive a diagnosis.

"There are so many possibilities for a portable microscope that's cheap but really high-powered ... we're looking to get a model out on the market in six months.

" Dr Phan projects the technology will be available in six months.

In creating the first vaccine against the Hendra virus, a CSIRO unit in Victoria developed methods that are being used in the ongoing battle against Ebola.

The Eureka Prizes are presented annually by the Australian Museum and recognise outstanding contributions to the industry across the fields of research, innovation, leadership and communication.

In the 25th year of the awards, scientists from universities, private research institutions and even schools have been rewarded from the $150,000 prize pool.

Australian Museum chief executive Kim McKay said the awards showed the brilliance of the nation's scientists.

"An optical plastic droplet that costs a cent to make and that can be used by anyone who has a smartphone - it's an excellent example of how clever research is making people's lives better and the technology accessible," she said.

Other winning inventions included water-efficient grain farming methods and life buoys for helicopter crashes at sea.

Ms McKay says she expects the prize money to fund future inventions.

"We provide the money as an incentive because unlike you or me, we know scientists will re-invest that money and use it for more research and more innovation," she said. 10 Sep 2014

It would be interesting to see how much the product costs to the general populous.

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