This Smartphone Is Made From Fairly Mined Minerals, And It’s Designed To Last Longer Than Your Contract

VIDEO via Fairphone

via Fairphone

Finally, a mobile device you can feel good about—not because it’s shiny and new, but because it’s ethically made and built to last

Bas van Abel wanted a phone that worked well enough, but avoided the conflict mineral issues and harsh working practices built into mainstream devices. So two years ago, he created the Fairphone, a phone that would be adequate in its functionality but exemplary in its supply chain.

Since we last spoke to him, he seems to have succeeded. The Dutch company has sold 60,000 units and established a string of direct and traceable relationships with mineral suppliers around the world. Now it’s launching a wholly new version, one that considers not only the phone’s pre-life but its longevity and afterlife as well.

As you can imagine, building a phone from scratch isn’t easy, especially when you have ethical expectations. “We had a lot of people expecting us to kind of create world peace at the same time as making a phone,” Van Abel says. “I felt a little bipolar. Sometimes I felt like dying. At other times, I felt on top of the world.”

The new version is different in that Fairphone designed every aspect itself. The previous version was mostly licensed, with Fairphone concentrating on the supply chain relationships. Designing from start meant the company could look more deeply at how that design affects the supply chain. “With Fairphone One we had to reverse engineer the supply chain and we got stuck at a certain point. Now we can use certain materials and we can choose the partners we want to work with,” Van Abel says. On top of the fair-trade relationships it had for tin, tantalum, and copper, the company now has new ones for tungsten and gold.

At the same time, it has thought about how to make the phone last longer, so there’s less need for a constant stream of new materials. The new version is made to be durable (with a hard, integrated case) and repairable. The back comes off easily, revealing a transparent layer of components, each of which can easily be taken out and swapped for others. And the screen is a separate piece, so you can source a new one without buying a whole new model.

Read more: This Smartphone Is Made From Fairly Mined Minerals, And It’s Designed To Last Longer Than Your Contract

 

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Researchers Create Lens to Turn Smartphone into Microscope

a) Changing the temperature of the preheated surface modifies the shape of a cured lens. b) The inkjet print head printing droplet lenses on a heated surface, and c) The lens can be attached to a smartphone for microscopy applications.

a) Changing the temperature of the preheated surface modifies the shape of a cured lens. b) The inkjet print head printing droplet lenses on a heated surface, and c) The lens can be attached to a smartphone for microscopy applications.

Lens Could Give Schools, Clinics Low-Cost Alternative to Conventional Equipment

Researchers at the University of Houston have created an optical lens that can be placed on an inexpensive smartphone to amplify images by a magnitude of 120, all for just 3 cents a lens.

Wei-Chuan Shih, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH, said the lens can work as a microscope, and the cost and ease of using it – it attaches directly to a smartphone camera lens, without the use of any additional device – make it ideal for use with younger students in the classroom.

It also could have clinical applications, allowing small or isolated clinics to share images with specialists located elsewhere, he said.

In a paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, Shih and three graduate students describe how they produced the lenses and examine the image quality. Yu-Lung Sung, a doctoral candidate, served as first author; others involved in the study include Jenn Jeang, who will start graduate school at Liberty University in Virginia this fall, and Chia-Hsiung Lee, a former graduate student at UH now working in the technology industry in Taiwan.

The lens is made of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a polymer with the consistency of honey, dropped precisely on a preheated surface to cure. Lens curvature – and therefore, magnification – depends on how long and at what temperature the PDMS is heated, Sung said.

The resulting lenses are flexible, similar to a soft contact lens, although they are thicker and slightly smaller.

“Our lens can transform a smartphone camera into a microscope by simply attaching the lens without any supporting attachments or mechanism,” the researchers wrote. “The strong, yet non-permanent adhesion between PDMS and glass allows the lens to be easily detached after use. An imaging resolution of 1 (micrometer) with an optical magnification of 120X has been achieved.”

Conventional lenses are produced by mechanical polishing or injection molding of materials such as glass or plastics. Liquid lenses are available, too, but those that aren’t cured require special housing to remain stable. Other types of liquid lenses require an additional device to adhere to the smartphone.

This lens attaches directly to the phone’s camera lens and remains attached, Sung said; it is reusable.

Read more: UH Researchers Create Lens to Turn Smartphone into Microscope

 

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An inexpensive device that can turn any smartphone into a DNA-scanning fluorescent microscope

via phys.org

via phys.org

New attachment turns a smartphone into a microscope that can image and size DNA molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair

If you thought scanning one of those strange, square QR codes with your phone was somewhat advanced, hold on to your seat. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have recently developed a device that can turn any smartphone into a DNA-scanning fluorescent microscope.

“A single DNA molecule, once stretched, is about two nanometers in width,” said Aydogan Ozcan, HHMI Chancellor Professor, UCLA. “For perspective, that makes DNA about 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Currently, imaging single DNA molecules requires bulky, expensive optical microscopy tools, which are mostly confined to advanced laboratory settings. In comparison, the components for my device are significantly less expensive.”

Enter Ozcan’s smartphone attachment — an external lens, thin-film interference filter, miniature dovetail stage mount for making fine alignments, and a laser diode, all enclosed in a small, 3D-printed case and integrated to act just like a fluorescence microscope.

Although other smart-phone-turned-microscopes can image larger scale objects such as cells, Ozcan’s group’s latest mobile-phone optical attachment is the first to image and size the slim strand of a single DNA molecule.

The device is intended for use in remote laboratory settings to diagnose various types of cancers and nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, as well as detect drug resistance in infectious diseases. To use the camera it is necessary to first isolate and label the desired DNA with fluorescent tags. Ozcan says such laboratory procedures are possible even in remote locations and resource-limited settings.

To scan the DNA, the group developed a computational interface and Windows smart application running on the same smart phone. The scanned information is then sent to a remote server in Ozcan’s laboratory, which measures the length of the DNA molecules. Assuming you have a reliable data connection, the entire data processing takes less than 10 seconds.

Read more: A Phone with the Ultimate Macro Feature

 

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Smartphone-based device could provide rapid, low-cost molecular tumor diagnosis

By quantifying the number of tumor-marker-targeting microbeads bound to cells (lower images), the D3 system categorizes high- and low-risk cervical biopsy samples as well as traditional pathology (upper images) does. (Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Systems Biology)

By quantifying the number of tumor-marker-targeting microbeads bound to cells (lower images), the D3 system categorizes high- and low-risk cervical biopsy samples as well as traditional pathology (upper images) does. (Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Systems Biology)

A device developed by MGH investigators may bring rapid, accurate molecular diagnosis of tumors and other diseases to locations lacking the latest medical technology

A device developed by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators may bring rapid, accurate molecular diagnosis of tumors and other diseases to locations lacking the latest medical technology. In their report appearing in PNAS Early Edition, the researchers describe a smartphone-based device that uses the kind of technology used to make holograms to collect detailed microscopic images for digital analysis of the molecular composition of cells and tissues.

“The global burden of cancer, limited access to prompt pathology services in many regions and emerging cell profiling technologies increase the need for low-cost, portable and rapid diagnostic approaches that can be delivered at the point of care,” says Cesar Castro, MD, of the MGH Cancer Center and Center for Systems Biology, co-lead author of the report. “The emerging genomic and biological data for various cancers, which can be essential to choosing the most appropriate therapy, supports the need for molecular profiling strategies that are more accessible to providers, clinical investigators and patients; and we believe the platform we have developed provides essential features at an extraordinary low cost.”

The device the team has developed – called the D3 (digital diffraction diagnosis) system – features an imaging module with a battery-powered LED light clipped onto a standard smartphone that records high-resolution imaging data with its camera. With a much greater field of view than traditional microscopy, the D3 system is capable of recording data on more than 100,000 cells from a blood or tissue sample in a single image. The data can then be transmitted for analysis to a remote graphic-processing server via a secure, encrypted cloud service, and the results rapidly returned to the point of care.

For molecular analysis of tumors, a sample of blood or tissue is labeled with microbeads that bind to known cancer-related molecules and loaded into the D3 imaging module. After the image is recorded and data transmitted to the server, the presence of specific molecules is detected by analyzing the diffraction patterns generated by the microbeads. The use of variously sized or coated beads may offer unique diffraction signatures to facilitate detection. A numerical algorithm developed by the research team for the D3 platform is capable of distinguishing cells from beads and of analyzing as much as 10 MB of data in less than nine hundredths of a second.

A pilot test of the system with cancer cell lines detected the presence of tumor proteins with an accuracy matching that of the current gold standard for molecular profiling, and the larger field of view enabled simultaneous analysis of more than 100,000 cells at a time. The investigators then conducted analysis of cervical biopsy samples from 25 women with abnormal PAP smears – samples collected along with those used for clinical diagnosis – using microbeads tagged with antibodies against three published markers of cervical cancer. Based on the number of antibody-tagged microbeads binding to cells, D3 analysis promptly and reliably categorized biopsy samples as high-risk, low-risk or benign, with results matching those of conventional pathologic analysis.

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Smartphone, Finger Prick, 15 Minutes, Diagnosis—Done!

A step-by-step demonstration of a smartphone dongle to diagnose sexually transmitted infections through a fully automated immunoassay —Video courtesy of Tassaneewan Laksanasopin and Tiffany Guo for Columbia Engineering

A step-by-step demonstration of a smartphone dongle to diagnose sexually transmitted infections through a fully automated immunoassay
—Video courtesy of Tassaneewan Laksanasopin and Tiffany Guo for Columbia Engineering

A team of researchers, led by Samuel K. Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, has developed a low-cost smartphone accessory that can perform a point-of-care test that simultaneously detects three infectious disease markers from a finger prick of blood in just 15 minutes.

The device replicates, for the first time, all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test. Specifically, it performs an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) without requiring any stored energy: all necessary power is drawn from the smartphone. It performs a triplexed immunoassay not currently available in a single test format: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and non-treponemal antibody for active syphilis infection.

Sia’s innovative accessory or dongle, a small device that easily connects to a smartphone or computer, was recently piloted by health care workers in Rwanda who tested whole blood obtained via a finger prick from 96 patients who were enrolling into prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission clinics or voluntary counseling and testing centers. The work is published February 4 in Science Translational Medicine. Sia collaborated with researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health; the Institute of HIV Disease Prevention and Control, Rwanda Biomedical Center; Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Laboratory Reference and Research Branch, Atlanta; and OPKO Diagnostics.

“Our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory,” says Sia. “Coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain lab-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones. This kind of capability can transform how health care services are delivered around the world.”

Read more: Smartphone, Finger Prick, 15 Minutes, Diagnosis—Done!

 

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