An endoscope is an optical, slender, tubular tool outfitted with lights and a camera that’s used to look inside the human body for any number of medical applications, including minimally-invasive surgery. The device illuminates the internal organs while an HD camera transmits real-time video onto a display for medical review. They are also expensive, with some fetching upwards of $20-thousand depending on the model, and are tethered to a power source, so they are not exactly portable.
Researchers from the University of Cape Town have now developed a low-cost wireless version that rivals its more expensive cousins. The DIY endoscope is designed around a Raspberry Pi Zero W, which cuts the price for the complete setup down to around $230, significant savings over the $20K versions found in most hospitals. The device features a 3.7mm 1001LG tube camera that provides 1280 x 720 high-definition videos and images using a 1/7" CMOS sensor. The lens offers a 115-degree field of view (FOV) and an extended depth of field, allowing objects in the range of 5 to 50mm to come into focus.
Connectivity is done via a USB 2.0 interface with the Pi, while six high-luminous 0603 white color LEDs are tasked to illuminate internal organs. The endoscope is powered by a 1200mAh lithium-polymer battery and housed inside a fireproof acrylonitrile butadiene styrene enclosure. The researchers utilized the RaspAP wireless setup and management system that allows users to provide a wireless access point up and running on the Pi, allowing the camera to transmit videos and images to a laptop or mobile device. The software also features a quick installer, which uses default settings for the Raspberry Pi, making setup a breeze. The DIY is still under development and will require FDA approval before medical professionals can use it. Still, the researchers feel it holds enough promise to be used in pilot trials in the near future.