Project Details


Bringing communities closer to clean water with faster and cheaper testing kits

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @WaterScope_org

Organisation URL:

  • Health
  • Internet
  • Open Source
  • Physical Computing

We may take drinking water for granted, but the quality of available water supply is unknown in many parts of the world. One tenth of the global population – that’s over half a billion people – do not have access to clean water. 

Testing for bacteria is time-consuming and costly. Usually, an outside organisation comes in to do the testing, using heavy equipment worth thousands of pounds. Once a water sample is acquired, the organisation will wait 24 hours to see if certain levels of bacteria develop. It may take days or weeks for the local population to know the results.

A group of staff and students at Cambridge University have found a faster and cheaper way to test water. Led by Dr. Alexander Patto, WaterScope are using Dr Richard Bowman’s affordable 3D-printed digital microscope that delivers results in under two hours. The microscope connects to a Raspberry Pi, but can be used independently of any computer. Anyone can collect a sample of water, which the microscope filters for bacteria. Results are uploaded to a server along with GPS coordinates so they can be shared and archived.

WaterScope has raised over £80,000 of non-dilutive funding to date, and has partnered with Oxfam to bring their testing kits to people who need them the most. They are also selling 3D-printed microscopes on their site to raise more funds. Visit for more details.

Last updated: 02nd of August, 2016

Cookies on the Social Tech Guide

Social Tech Guide uses cookies to provide you with an enhanced user experience. To remove this message, please click continue.

Continue Learn more