A low-cost wireless endoscope camera: a preliminary report
J. M. Lazarus, M. Ncube
African Journal of Urology
Background Technology currently used for surgical endoscopy was developed and is manufactured in high-income economies. The cost of this equipment makes technology transfer to resource constrained environments difficult. We aimed to design an affordable wireless endoscope to aid visualisation during rigid endoscopy and minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The initial prototype aimed to replicate a 4-mm lens used in rigid cystoscopy. Methods Focus was placed on using open-source resources to
... the wireless endoscope to significantly lower the cost and make the device accessible for resource-constrained settings. An off the shelf miniature single-board computer module was used because of its low cost (US$10) and its ability to handle high-definition (720p) video. Open-source Linux software made monitor mode ("hotspot") wireless video transmission possible. A 1280 × 720 pixel high-definition tube camera was used to generate the video signal. Video is transmitted to a standard laptop computer for display. Bench testing included latency of wireless digital video transmission. Comparison to industry standard wired cameras was made including weight and cost. The battery life was also assessed. Results In comparison with industry standard cystoscope lens, wired camera, video processing unit and light source, the prototype costs substantially less. (US$ 230 vs 28 000). The prototype is light weight (184 g), has no cables tethering and has acceptable battery life (of over 2 h, using a 1200 mAh battery). The camera transmits video wirelessly in near real time with only imperceptible latency of < 200 ms. Image quality is high definition at 30 frames per second. Colour rendering is good, and white balancing is possible. Limitations include the lack of a zoom. Conclusion The novel wireless endoscope camera described here offers equivalent high-definition video at a markedly reduced cost to contemporary industry wired units and could contribute to making minimally invasive surgery possible in resource-constrained environments.