Novel device for male infertility screening with single-ball lens microscope and smartphone

We developed a ball lens microscope equipped with smartphone to analyze semen samples. This ball lens provides an easy solution for global users to screen for male infertility at home.

Like Comment

Volume 106, Issue 3, Pages 574-578


Yoshitomo Kobori, M.D., Peter Pfanner, B.App.Sc., M.D.M., Gail S. Prins, Ph.D., Craig Niederberger, M.D.



To investigate the usefulness of a novel semen analysis device consisting of a single-ball lens microscope paired with a state-of-the-art smartphone equipped with a camera.


Laboratory investigation.


University research laboratory.


A total of 50 semen samples obtained from volunteers were analyzed for count, concentration, and motility with an 0.8-mm ball lens and three types of smartphone. Comparisons were made with results obtained with a laboratory-based computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) system.



Main Outcome Measure(s)

Sperm concentration; sperm motility.


Sperm concentration counted with a ball lens and each smartphone showed a very strong correlation with the CASA results. Likewise, sperm motility calculated with our device showed significant correlations to CASA. If eight spermatozoa or fewer were found on the field of view of an iPhone 6s, the semen specimens were considered to be below the lower reference limit for sperm concentration of World Health Organization 2010 guidelines (15 × 106 spermatozoa/mL). The sensitivity was 87.5%, and specificity was 90.9%.


Smartphones have great potential to analyze semen because they are portable, contain excellent digital cameras, and can be easily attached to a microscope. A single-ball lens microscope is inexpensive and easy to use for acquiring digital microscopic movies. Given its small size and weight, the device can support testing for male fertility at home or in the field, making it much more convenient and economical than current practice. This single-ball lens microscope provides an easy solution for global users to rapidly screen for male infertility.

Read the full text here.

Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. 


Go to the profile of Edmund Ko
about 5 years ago
I think this device has a lot of potential to enhance care not only for our male infertility patients but also for our urology patients s/p vasectomy or vasectomy reversal. Microscopes are expensive to purchase but this $7 attachment to a smartphone makes it easy to answer the question of whether there is sperm in the ejaculate or not. With the correlations to CASA, a sensitivity nearing 86% and specificity nearing 91%, this device, although not perfect and probably won't replace the andrology lab, has a lot of potential to improve point of care delivery for our patients. I can't wait to try out this device myself.