Smartphone Camera Can Illuminate Bacteria Causing Acne, Dental Plaques

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method that uses smartphone-derived images to identify potentially harmful bacteria on skin and in oral cavities.

Their approach, outlined in a paper published in the issue of Optics and Lasers in Engineering, can visually identify microbes on skin contributing to acne and slow wound healing, as well as bacteria in the oral cavity that can cause gingivitis and dental plaques.

The team — led by Ruikang Wang, a UW professor of bioengineering and of ophthalmology — combined a smartphone-case modification with image-processing methods to illuminate bacteria on images taken by a conventional smartphone camera. This approach yielded a relatively low-cost and quick method that could be used at home to assess whether potentially harmful bacteria are present on skin and in the oral cavity.

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