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Oculyze – Smartphone-Microscope and Image Recognition

Oculyze develops microscopes for smartphones that come with integrated and instant image analysis. With this new technology, microscopes can now be used as a diagnostic tool at any location and without the need of specialist knowledge or expensive equipment.

PROBLEM

The use of microscopy can be a very helpful, if not essential method in many areas such as medicine, environmental studies or food technology. However, not everyone who might profit from the use of microscopic images has the money to invest in expensive microscopy gear or has the ability to access it. For example in developing countries, not all medical institutions have access to microscopes which can be essential for the diagnosis of a lot of diseases – microscopes allow for the analysis of blood and other samples, enabling doctors to diagnose illnesses and identify the appropriate medical treatments.

In other circumstances, the standard microscopes are simply too large or impractical in order for them to be used “in the field”. As such, samples often have to be sent back to laboratories for microscopy imaging and analysis, meaning that there is a higher risk of contamination and deterioration of the samples. The longer the period between the taking of a sample and the imaging plus analysis of it – may it be a blood sample in a hospital or a yeast sample in a brewery – the higher the risk that the result is distorted. In addition, the analysis of the microscopy results can often be time-consuming and costly as this often requires specialist expertise.

SOLUTION

Oculyze has developed a hand-held microscope with an automated image recognition software. The microscope is connected and used with a smartphone and has a magnification of ~400x.
As such, Oculyze enables the user to take a microscopic image and to get the analysis results within seconds, anywhere and without the need for specialist help.

FOUNDER

Kilian L. Moser, Dr. Ulrich M. Tillich, Dr. Katja Schulze, Prof. Dr. Marcus Frohme

FUNDING

Oculyze was mostly funded through the  Exist grant.  In addition, the startup has won a number of prizes along the way, some of which included prize money, and other smaller grants to help pay for salaries and research and development.

LOCATION

Wildau, Germany

WEBSITE
Oculyze – Smartphone microscope and image recognition software
TIMELINE

  • November 2015 – As a result of the project PlanktoVision  –  an automated analysis system for the identification of phytoplankton by the Technical University Wildau – the idea for Ocuylze is born
  • February 2016 – Registration of the patent
  • April 2016 – Start of the pilot
  • January 2016 – Finalist in the Phase 2 of the  BPW Plan Berlin Brandenburg
  • April 2016 – First Place in the Science for Life Technology Slam
  • July 2016 – 2nd Place Final round of the  BPW Plan Berlin Brandenburg
  • July 2016 – 4th place in the Science4Life Venture Cup 2016
  • 6th October 2016 – Founding
  • October 2016 – Winner TechCode Radar Award 2016
  • November 2016 – Product launch and first sales
  • January 2017 – Seed round complete
  • February 2017 – 1st US customer submitted PCT
  • March 2017 – First hires
  • June – July 2017 – Second Hires
  • September 2017 – Winner NEXT ROUND: Brandenburg
  • September 2017 – Oculyze is chosen to take part in the Global Merck Startup Accelerator-Programm
  • October 2017 – Piloting next application
  • Plan for 2018 – seeking series A funding

COMPETITORS

When it comes to smartphone microscopes, there already is quite a large variety of products available. One is Foldscope,  a foldable paper microscope produced with the aim of offering “low-cost scientific tools to expand the access to science”. Considering the cost of 50 cents per Foldscope, the developers Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski from Stanford University seem to have reached this goal.

What makes Oculyze stand out from other smartphone microscopes is the combination of the smart microscope with the location-independent and rapid image analysis. Of course, there is an extensive range of image analysis software on the market and in development, but the combination of the software and microscope is still rather rare.

This uncommon combination can also be found in the laboratory of the Ozcan Research Group at UCLA which is working on projects within the area of mobile diagnostics. They are developing wireless-health devices – for example, currently being developed in cooperation with scientists at Uppsala and Stockholm University, is a smartphone microscope which enables on the spot DNA sequence analysis.  

ARTICLE ABOUT Oculyze – Smartphone microscope and image recognition software

Mobile Mikroskopie: Zellcharakterisierung mit einfachen Mitteln / GITLaborportal / March 23, 2016

loT:Internet on Tap/ Cambridge Consultants / September 14, 2017

Comparison of different methods for the determination of yeast cell concentration / Brauerei Forum / May, 2017

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