Lifelens receives $75,000 Imagine Cup grant

Team Lifelens, which took second place in the 2011 Imagine Cup, was recently awarded a $75,000 Imagine Cup grant after creating a phone app that can image malaria cells for fast diagnosis.

Lifelens finished second in the 2011 Imagine Cup finals, which is now in its 10th year, though the grant program is in its inaugural year. The team will receive $75,000, solution provider support, cloud computing services, software, Microsoft BizSpark account benefits and connections with the company's network of investors, business partners and NGOs, CNET reports.

By applying a blood sample to a slide using a dye that only malaria parasites can absorb, the app uses a specialized 350x magnification lens to get a cellular-level view of blood cells. The app uses the team's algorithm to detect which cells and how many have been infected with the malaria parasite.

"One of the biggest differences our project brings to the table is that we're coupling blood cells with analysis tools," William To, a Lifelens team member and a student at UC Davis, said, according to CNET. "A lot of projects in development really just focus on imaging. But we can teach it to do different analyses right there on the phone."

Lifelens is most likely a few years away from development, but the team envisions that the app can be used in remote clinics to allow a single phone to diagnose many people. In addition, the app uses GPS to geotag the location of each analysis, which can then be displayed using Bing Maps.