Archive for July, 2009

Fluorescent Microscopy on your Cellphone Camera

July 28th, 2009

ThinkTech is pleased to present the following article by guest blogger Nicole Hori, of Honolulu, who holds an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering:

Cell phones are everywhere, and with their built in connectivity and ability to capture images or process data, they can take new forms with only minor modifications. If your cell phone has a camera, it can be used to read barcodes or find the perfect paint color. Lenses are available to assist in taking wide-angle and macro images, and it’s possible to take the lens off entirely for bacterial cell counts.

Speaking of medicine, cell phones also have potential for community health applications, helping people self-diagnose, transmit images for analysis, and receive health advice. Adaptations may soon make it possible to use cell phones for ultrasound, as tactile listening aids (to augment lip reading), to watch for skin cancer or conduct blood cell counts, for glucose testing, to record information on GERD, to monitor patients’ breath (and see if they’re taking their meds), to monitor recovery after a heart attack (a mini ECG is connected via Bluetooth) or breathing during exercise, and to combat pharmaceutical fakes in Africa.

The latest medical device to be built around a cell phone hit the news big this week after being published in PLoS ONE. Starting with a Nokia 3.2 megapixel cell phone, Berkeley researchers added a 60x objective and 20x eyepiece to create a cell phone microscope (CellScope) with 1.2um resolution (limited by the cell phone sensor, not the optics). The resulting assembly won’t fit in your pocket anymore, but it should be durable enough to take microscopy to patients’ homes even in developing countries.

The researchers were able to obtain images of blood samples that could potentially be used to diagnose diseases such as malaria and sickle cell anemia. The sickle cell anemia samples didn’t even need staining, so this could be an easy way to screen newborns. There is still room to improve the usability of the malaria images by changing the lenses, but they’ve done enough to show that it will work.

In addition to brightfield images, the researchers turned the camera to night mode and were able to use fluorescent illumination to detect tuberculosis positive sputum smears. Resolution doesn’t need to be as high when fluorescence is used, so it’s possible to have a larger field of view and thus get results more quickly. A major drawback is that applying a fluorescent stain isn’t practical in the field; perhaps this will instead be used in labs that can’t afford ordinary fluorescent microscopes.

Nicole Hori
ThinkTech Hawaii

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July 21st, 2009

LINDA LINGLE, in her no-veto letter to Coleen Hanabusa:

* * * “[T]his bill changes the terms of the High Technology Investment Tax Credits eighteen months prior to the expiration of those credits. I am concerned that this sends a signal to potential investors and the business community that they cannot depend upon the continuation of a government policy that encouraged them to behave in a certain manner, presuming the same investment rules would stay in place through 2010. * * * On balance, I believe the fiscal implications of this legislation outweigh the concerns I have noted above.”

* * * *

BILL SPENCER, President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association:

“The Governor and her official policy staff have never been authentic about their public support for creating an ‘innovation’ industry in Hawaii. She is to blame for breaking her campaign promise to ‘let Act 221 run its course.’ When Act 215 was enacted and compromises industry made were met with the promise that the ‘law would be allowed to run its course’, she broke her promise yet again. In times like these it seems ridiculous to cripple an economic stimulus plan that has demonstrated effectiveness.”

Spencer went on to say that “Before she leaves office we can only hope she does not do further damage, because there will be capital formation legislation next year to continue our effort to diversify the economy. My goal as HVCA President is to begin the process of developing the next capital formation initiative that will lead the way toward creating a more diversified economy for Hawaii and making sure there is enough money to fund it. HVCA is establishing a Political Action Committee to support candidates that understand and will support measures that will diversify our economy and provide a sustainable source of venture capital.”

* * * *

JEFF AU, CEO of PacifiCap LLC:

“If there is a silver lining, we certainly put up a good fight, and through this process, I think we raised awareness and dispelled much of the misinformation. Many years from now, historians may define July 15, 2009 as the day that Hawaii's hopes and dreams for a more diversified economy and high tech future died. Or, historians may conclude that July 15, 2009 was the first day of a ‘New New Beginning.’”

* * * *

LISA GIBSON, CEO of the Hawaii Science & Technology Council:

“Killing Act 221/215 prior to its 2010 sunset date once again dramatically demonstrates that the business community cannot trust the state to keep its word and ensure a stable policy environment in which to do business.”

* * * *

BILL MEYER, ESQ., entertainment lawyer:

“This news is especially disappointing because last week's meeting with the Governor left a number of those attending hopeful that there was at least a reasonable chance that the Governor might indeed veto the bill. The meeting on July 2 lasted over three hours and consisted of a robust and frank discussion about the purpose and intent of Act 221 and how, over the last eight years, the Act has successfully resulted in significant job creation and economic diversification. Pulling the rug out from under the industries incentivized by Act 221 will mean that Hawaii will be severely disadvantaged to participate in any economic recovery that might lie on the horizon.

Meyer added that “Within hours, I have received word from several businesses that they are beginning to plan their departure from the State of Hawaii because, in the words of one frustrated CEO, ‘there is simply no future in Hawaii for innovative entrepreneurs.’”

He went on to say that “The killing of Act 221 is the last of three major ‘triple deaths’ Hawaii's private sector has experienced this year and is the one that, as news circles around the country, will certainly cement our reputation as the last place to come to do business. The death of 221, along with the death of the Superferry and the legislature's raising of the personal income tax rate to the highest in the country, have combined to act as a giant ‘going out of business sign’ that has been hung around the neck of our state. * * * The Hokulia decision a few years ago sent a message to real estate developers that Hawaii is a very risky, unstable and dangerous place to do business. SB199 sends the same message to the entertainment/biotechnology and tech sectors, effectively turns the clock back to the year 2000 in terms of economic diversification and pretty much guarantees further economic decline and damage to our fragile private sector.”

Meyer concluded that “The place to start is by ‘throwing out the bums’ who voted for a return to the ‘status quo’ and an abandonment of pro-business forward thinking. Conversely, it is vitally important that, whether you are a democrat or republican, pro-business candidates are identified and supported during the next election. In this regard, in the not too distant future, I will once again circulate the names of the politicians who have conspired to stymie our economy and those who should be congratulated and supported for having the courage and vision to attempt to build a new economy in Hawaii in the face of the vested interests who are apparently content with the way things are.”

* * * *

DUKE AIONA, Lieutenant Governor, running for governor and disagreeing with Linda Lingle:

“Investors and businesses plan years in advance and fundamentally changing the rules midstream is short-sighted and detrimental to our future.”

* * * *

For more on Linda Lingle's failure to veto SB199, see the ThinkTech column in the Business section of the Honolulu Advertiser on July 26, 2009.

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July 15th, 2009

Dan Leuck (pronounced “Luke”) is a ball of fire techie. There’s nothing he can’t do, and few places he hasn’t been, from Japan to Madagascar. He moves with a special presence, and magnetic awareness, pulling in ideas and exuding erudition in his deep, resonant voice.

He’s a hopeless, inveterate and completely successful techie, poor guy, into programming and entrepreneurship and social networking, moving into new chapters while you watch and solving any problem you can throw at him. People like this don’t grow on trees.

So it should come as no surprise that TechHui,, his social networking tech trade association group sprung up with the same vigor, and his profit startup, Okayzo,, is now going logarithmic in the same way.

Dan was instrumental in helping ThinkTechHawaii,, set up its March program State of the Web 2009 and its May program TechState2009 just after the session ended. Somehow he found us Michael Jones, CTA of Google, and that was really something. To boot, Dan also served as a panel moderator. What a guy.

So now, Dan and TechHui and Okayzo, are setting up their own super-ambitious multi-panel program in July. He’s doing this with a number of organizations and fellow techies. He’s setting it up with Pacific New Media at the University and inviting 200 of his best friends. And while he’s been doing this with one hand, he’s been lobbying for 221 with the other.

The program is going to be from 9-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 25th.

It’ll start in morning with not one or two but three fire hose keynotes, running from one end of the tech spectrum to the other - Kaz Hashimoto, a brilliant gamer from Avatar Realty (“The Making of Blue Mars”), Jeff Mikulina from Blue Planet Clean Energy Foundation and formerly Chief Environmentalist of the Sierra Club (“Changing the World’s Energy Culture”), and Moriba Jah from the Advanced Sciences & Technology Research Institute for Astrodynamics (“Introduction to Astrodynamics”). That’ll get you up.

The keynotes are in the Art Auditorium, which, if you haven’t seen it, is one of my favorite theatres on the campus, spacious and comfortable.

After lunch and from 1-4 p.m. it goes to breakout sessions in Kuykendall. There are four tracks and 10 sessions, covering everything from renewable energy and cinematic 3D CG to social media and nanotech. That’ll keep you up.

Meet the tech shakers and revolutionaries in clean energy. Check out the top software developers. Discover technologies being developed by Hawaii companies. Find a job, finally, or make an investment. In any event, get out of the house on Saturday. What’s not to like?

This is an ambitious program organized by and with ambitious high-energy people. It’s a stay-in-touch program, not only allowing you to get current on edgy things and speakers, but to spread yourself out in a veritable hotbed of tech. Something for everyone, even you and me.

Programs like this stretch your mind, and gather in a special community. They are a gift to us all, and bring us together. So it’s the least we can do to attend, and why not. Meet your current and future friends, open your mind, make deals and network your little heart to death.

This is going to cost you big time, $15 for TechHui members, $25 for others. If you’re smart, you’ll join TechHui first and then go cheap. Dial today and come and see us on July 25th.

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