In the US, ear infections are one of the most common reasons for children in visiting paediatricians. In fact, as high as 90% of children tend to have ear infections before they turn seven. Not just children, even adults face ear pain and ear-related disorders, and that number is as high as 20 million doctor visits every year.

Recognizing this field as ripe for innovation, CellScope developed the Oto device, which is the world’s first smartphone-enabled otoscope for both doctors and the general public.


What it is

The Oto comes in 2 variants, the Oto HOME™ for the general public and the Oto PRO™ for clinicians.

The Oto HOME is primarily targeted towards parents of young children. When parents suspect their child having an ear infection, they can use the Oto smartphone attachment and record a quick video of their child’s ear. Parents can share this video with a doctor using Oto CONNECT™, a telemedicine service that promises a doctor’s response within 2 hours.

For practitioners, the Oto PRO™ allows them to capture images & videos of the tympanic membrane from their smartphone. The app also allows magnification of the images, attachment of an insufflator for pneumatic otoscopy, saving images in a HIPAA-compliant environment and exporting them as PDF files.

How it works

The device works on the principles of optics and is an outcome of Prof. Daniel Fletcher’s bioengineering lab at University of California, Berkeley. Working on the question “How do you turn a cellphone into a microscope?”, the CellScope team embarked on a mission to create the world’s first smartphone-enabled digital tool kit, that is capable of capturing diagnostic quality data.

The device is self-sufficient and does not require any batteries. It uses fibre optics to draw light from the phone’s LED flash, channels it through a complex structure of lenses and illuminates the field of vision. A camera sensor then captures images or a video and displays them on the Oto smartphone app, where the images can be magnified or shared.


Several years in development, the company is accepting pre-orders for both the Oto HOME and the Oto PRO. The consumer-facing device costs $79 (approx. INR 4740) while the Oto PRO for doctors is sold at $299 (aprox. INR 17,940). The device for patients lacks the insufflator attachment, image capturing & exporting (it captures only videos) and every doctor consultation is charged at $49 (INR 2940). Both devices are expected to ship in 4-6 weeks, to arrive in January 2015.

Doctors can find our more or pre-order the Oto PRO here while parents in the US can find out more here.

See the device in action in this video:

All images from CellScope’s official website.