Camera Adapter For Detecting Melanoma

ring adapter

[MM] has built a simple lighting adapter for analyzing skin lesions. Different layers of the skin absorb different parts of the light spectrum. By shining those particular wave lengths on the skin you can get an image of the lesion in various layers. This camera adapter is designed for a Nikon Coolpix E3100 digital camera. The ring of LEDs contains blue, green, red, and IR. White is included as well for taking normal pictures. A polarized filter is used to cut down on light reflections from the skin surface. The device does have some calibration issues since it was soldered by hand, but the preliminary results look very promising.

15 thoughts on “Camera Adapter For Detecting Melanoma

  1. Awsome, very rare is it that hacks have a really positive impact on life, usually it’s just something to do for fun (or something along the lines of that) very nice, and as far as i’m aware of, there is no commerical version of some sort of home skin cancer test.

    I smell patents pending ;)

  2. The linked article is no joke, but it does fail to cite any research to back itself up. I googled around and found that a Dr. Elbaum seems to be referenced quite a bit with respect to this kind of research.

    Just search for “melanoma Elbaum” on and you’ll get a bevy of results backing up this concept.

  3. Briefly,

    Biophotonics is the study of living things with light. The idea is to image the object without killing it (X-rays etc.) and without the instrument costing a fortune (NMR).

    Biooptics is the subfield which employs visible to near infrared light. This is because of the so-called “biological window” at these wavelengths. Visible light doesn’t hurt you, so your body doesn’t waste resources in blocking it as with ultra-violet etc. It is also easier to generate and work with.

    Have said that, the different structures and materials absorb/scatter light differently. This project deals only with the absorbtion aspect (he gives examples near the top regarding the chosen LED wavelengths). By using different wavelengths he is able to choose specific types of structures. You may find Alfano’s paper “Deep subsurface imaging in tissues using spectral and polarization filtering” useful (it is freely available on Optics Express).

    For those of you considering such a project I’d suggest three things:
    (a) consider using one of those little laser keychains. You can then use off-normal illumination to remove specular reflection at the skin surface
    (b) consider wetting the tissue and placing a sheet of plexiglass (or the equivalent) over the tissue, this will provide a better interface than the skin/air
    (c) consider making the final polarizer turnable. You can then take the CO and CR polarized images and generate the POL (co-cr/co+cr) image. This will tell you about the scattering within the tissue. Absorbtion information is nice, but you need scattering to get detailed results.

    For more info:
    Search for “Steven Jacques” he is very well known within the field and has a number of good papers. Alfano is on the other coast doing work with CCNY. Finally a shameless plug for my own paper in polarization imaging:
    “Expression of target optical properties in subsurface polarization-gated imaging” at

  4. There are a lot of projects going on to attempt to advance the medical field using optics. With current non-optic tests for malignant tumors, it can take 15 minutes for the doctors to decide if they should remove more skin (cut a little, test, cut a little, test). Imagine how much faster this whole process would go if you just turned on your cancer detecting headlamp. Another project under way is in trying to detect blood-sugar levels for diabetics. It would be some development indeed if diabetics didn’t have to draw blood to test this.

    On a side note… is #3 trying to say that lasers can cause skin cancer? Either that or he is talking about shining bright light on a tumor caused by light. The LEDs used are not in the UV spectrum so it doesn’t really matter either way.

    #4 it’s simpler than you’re probably making it out to be. How do you detect blue? Shine blue light on something. Detecting cancer is simply a matter of shining “cancer colored light” so to speak. That’s basically all that’s going on here, not to say this is a simple task by any means.

  5. Actually it’s not about shining a blue light to detect something blue, it’s shining a blue light to detect something yellow, or green for red, or whathaveyou. You illuminate with an opposite-colored light, and the thing you’re looking for will be dark.

  6. this is realy ingenius. i am only a number freak, but i have alot of respect for this site, and the topics, with some exceptions. this is the best thing ive seen so far. i have someone in my life that has this issue, and a lot of fear along with it. i thank everyone who contributes to this site.

  7. very cool. I can imagine something like this being used for preliminary diagnosis that can be done at home by almost anyone with a computer/internet. While there is not substitute for seeing a doctor about such issues… believe me, its damn expensive to have to visit a skin doctor every 6 months (I’ve had to do so since I was 8 :/ )

    Looks very professional too.

  8. Having worked on a not too dissimilar project for a biomedical diagnostics firm (a major one), I can honestly say that this is very promising -especially since it is not in the hands of a major biomedical firm. Let us pray that none of the big firms slaps a patent onto this idea, I’ve seen brilliant, simple ideas turned into mass market money spinners.

    Quite honestly, the best post HAD has had for ages, possibly ever. Top work guys! I hope that this project will be a huge success, especially since melenoma presently has no effective treatment.

  9. /*can you post the other components: power supply and whatever else that is needed besides the LEDs ? thank you. this is great.*/

    There is nothing much to show about electronic part of this as there are diodes connected in groups of four(same color) thtough button. Pover supply as you can see in one of my pictures is simple Voltage regulator 7805. Of course it is no problem to draw shematic if there is an interest…Just leave some comments about this in my blog, just to remind me. Thank You

  10. This looks like a very neat idea. If you can look at the infra-red region then this will show body heat (they may show increased uptake in skin carcinomas). Would it be possible to look at frequency shift of the reflected light? This might give some indication of peripheral blood flow.

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