This afternoon, U.S.A. team LifeLens presented their project—the goal of which is to stop the more than one million deaths a year due to malaria—with more than 85% of deaths occurring in children under five years of age. LifeLens has created a device that delivers an accurate screening of malaria. Team members Tristan Gibeau, Wilson To, Cy Khomaee, Jason Wakizaka started their presentation by handing out a pamphlet that all room attendees could view, that contained biography information on the team, a summary of the device, the reasons they started the project, and the any universities, programs, and investors they have presented their innovation to.
LifeLens helps reduce child mortality caused by lack of detection to malaria. Early intervention means children can be treated effectively. While rapid diagnostic tests are effective, they are sensitive with certain environments, and have error rates up to 60% of the time—whereas LifeLens has a 94.4% accuracy.
The team uses the Windows Phone 7, because the patient doesn’t need to be in close proximity, and cell-phone based technologies are seen as the new trend for healthcare and diagnostics. The product does not need the cloud or a connection with a server. It will store the analysis locally with areas if no connection then send the data in the future for data mining. The device shows Bing maps and a web portal to see all malaria cases globally, and contains a database that stores all info (GPS, cell imagery, data on cell, case and patient data). The data is also distributable across multiple phones.
As a tool, LifeLens can help diagnosis other conditions, such as anemia, and it’s reach could be larger than the current condition the team is focused on diagnosing. The product detects and analyzes the cells, and for malaria, which is caused by a parasite, it specifically looks for the parasite in the cells. The team demonstrated the use of their product—with a leaf—and we could see the cellular structure of the leaf, and the user interface for how the product detects and analyzes cellular structure, captures it, and how the information about it is stored and shared.
In 2009, 700M was spent to combat malaria, so there is a huge financial incentive for government agencies and others to use the LifeLens technology. Only a handful of technologies that are competitive and all of them require a doctor’s judgment. LifeLens shows very clearly whether you have malaria, or you don’t, and it doesn’t give false positives. LifeLens is also a cost saving solution, at.56 cents per person vs. 3.40. This enormous savings has made the product attractive to many agencies, such as Hope Enterprises and Real Medicine Foundation, which the team is forming partnerships with.
During the Q&A session, the judges asked the team how they work remotely, and the team answered that due to their specializations, (finance, marketing, computer science, biological sciences), they can simply focus on their individual parts and use collaborative online time with live meeting and web cams.
The judges asked how would the product work if there was no Internet access, and the team explained the product will update on database side, and has backwards compatibility. The device reports what version the user has.
The team also explained that they looked at other phones but decided the Windows Phone has a better angle, and that the product mat to used for other diseases and possibly have a consumer version in the future.
Great work today LifeLens, and congratulations on a terrific presentation.