Guardian Technologies, a Virginia company that was started to help airport X-ray scanners distinguish explosives in luggage from innocuous plastics and liquids, has developed a system that automatically scans microscope slides for the bacillus.
The company’s software algorithms can spot distinctive shapes, colors and densities that untrained eyes may miss. In a recent test in South Africa, which has some of the highest TB rates in the world, the technology was 93 percent accurate in detecting the bacillus on microscope slides and had a false positive rate of less than 2 percent, the company said.
The original Guardian system fit a digital camera to a standard microscope. Now, it is making an automated version that can hold 50 slides and work all night while no one is in the lab.