photo credit: Rice 360

global focus microscope

Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are most commonly found in developing countries -- the African region carries the greatest proportion of TB cases per population each year and over 80 percent of the world's malaria cases and deaths. In these low-resource settings, bright-field microscopy analyzes sputum samples to diagnosis these potentially deadly infections. Though fluorescence microscopy is much faster and more sensitive than bright-field microscopy in disease detection, these sophisticated technologies are not available in developing countries due to their prohibitive cost.

The Global Focus Microscope is a portable, battery-powered, inverted bright field and fluorescence microscope with up to 1,000x magnification for detection of tuberculosis and malaria for less than 1/10th the cost of conventional fluorescence microscopes. The initial product concept and design was conceived by Andrew Miller of Rice University. The GFM incorporates market-available objective lenses, low-cost fluorescence filters on commercial flashlights, and a novel light path, originally developed in the 1920's. The resulting images can be captured and transmitted with a smart phone device.

3rd Stone Design Inc. worked with the inventors of the product concept to refine the parts design, the mechanical and optical engineering, and the manufacturing strategy. After successive rounds of prototyping, a beta unit run of 30 devices was produced for extensive field testing and evaluation. These devices won praise from clinicians and lab managers alike for the promise it holds in expanding TB detection at the point-of-care when immediate steps can be taken to address the presence of an infection.