Founded in the mobile microscopy lab at UC Berkeley, a young startup called CellScope is on a mission to turn your smart, mobile devices into a microscope, giving parents the ability to perform easy, at-home diagnoses. Graduating as part of Rock Health’s inaugural batch of startups, CellScope is preparing to launch its first product, an otoscope — that strange-looking device doctors use to look in your ears — that can be attached to smartphones to enable anyone and everyone to perform remote diagnoses of, say, pediatric ear infections. (Which, by the way, create 30 million doctor visits annually in the U.S.)
The startup has been developing its first product for over a year now, adding functionality that will give consumers the ability to share images of the eardrum with remote pediatricians for diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. To help bring its device to shelves near you, CellScope is today announcing that it has raised $1 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures.
After this epic post on the future of health care and medicine, you can bet that veteran investor and Sun Microsystems founding exec Vinod Khosla has had his eye out for smart, mobile health devices. His venture capital firm has been stepping up its investments in healthtech startups of late, participating in Misfit Wearables $7.6 million in funding, along with $10.5 million for AliveCor.
“Health data, the key ingredient to useful analysis and diagnosis, is starting to explode exponentially — and CellScope is on the cutting edge,” Khosla said today via Rock Health. “[Founder Erik Douglas] and his team are creating next-generation technology that will empower patients and help them access the best care in the most efficient manner possible.”
For the young team from UC Berkeley, Khosla’s participation is great early validation for its mission (and its peripheral device), allowing the team to accelerate its development and ramp up hiring.
CellScope’s overall goal here is to make the lives of busy parents just a little bit easier, Douglas says, and with smartphones reaching ubiquity, only now does a device like this really have the chance to create value. For busy parents, it means missing less work by avoiding those long drives to doctors’ offices, yet, on the flip side, gives doctors the opportunity to see increased revenue from aiding in mobile diagnostics. (Hopefully not at the same price point as an in-office visit, however.)
Founders Douglas and Amy Sheng said that CellScope originally grew out of the work the two were doing in developing cellphone-microscopy for remote diagnostics in developing countries. While international markets are on the roadmap, the team is currently piloting its system with a handful of doctors in the Bay Area.
The first device will focus on ear, nose and throat exams, with future CellScope products opening up to a greater range of use cases, including skin exams, and perhaps going after non-clinical applications, like consumer skincare or educational toys, making microscopy a fun, social experience for kids.
The otoscope will be an FDA Class 1, 510K-exempt device. The CellScope team hopes to go to market with their first product in the next year. And, considering over 80 percent of people have sought health information online, with over one-third of smartphone users tracking diet or exercise, according to Andrew Rosenthal of Massive Health, CellScope really can’t hit shelves fast enough.