Octopi, Open (?) microscope able to process 1.5M red blood cells/min

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When researching about open hardware projects to get inspiration for the Small Scope , found an interesting one called Octopi 1 , by Prakash Lab , the same guy behind the foldscope 2 . Something they did very nicely is the press release. If you just Google around, you'll find a lot of coverage.

Objectives of Octopi

They identify a great need for tools to do malaria diagnosis, which currently rely on microscopy imaging and manual analysis. This creates a great bottleneck, since technicians able to do the study and hardware is not easy to find in some countries.

Octopi can overcome these limitations by automating the image analysis, and by lowering the costs of the microscope itself. Malaria is one of those diseases that affect under developed countries and get relatively little attention from central economies (we are talking hundreds of thousands of deaths per year).

I have also seen a spectrometer from Armani Lab that targets the same problems.

Ideas behind Octopi

Simple microscope with a stage that can scan large areas and auto-focus. In this way it is possible to image large areas of a smear of blood . A piezo focuses on the microscope slide and two stepper motors move the sample in XY. A Jetson Nano powers the pattern recognition software that identifies red blood cells. There is also a laser for fluorescent imaging, and in principle a filter

Limitations of Octopi

It is very badly documented. It is hard to know what hardware is actually used. A lot of components are sourced from Aliexpress, which means they come and go of stock and it is very hard to buy the exact same components.


  1. https://doi.org/10.1101/684423

  2. https://www.foldscope.com/

Aquiles Carattino
Aquiles Carattino
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