The Bellowscope Platform

An ultra-low-cost option for gastric cancer screening in rural areas of low-income countries

A novel soft robot with independent, simultaneous pressurisation of three bellows.

​Similar to the HydroJet, the BellowScope platform is being developed to provide an ultra-low-cost option for gastric cancer screening in rural areas of low-income countries. The system aims to deliver an equivalent, or improved range of motion when compared to traditional endoscopes, while being low-cost and disposable.

The BellowScope contains a small CCD camera at its tip which can relay images of the upper gastrointestinal tract to the operator for identification of abnormalities requiring further investigation. Navigation of the camera is achieved through independent, simultaneous pressurisation of three bellows. These are arranged in parallel around the vertices of a triangle to facilitate bending in two degrees of freedom. Coupled extension or retraction of the bellows also allows for a third degree of freedom along the axis of the tether as well as delivering variable stiffness. Signal and air pressure are supplied through a low-cost, multi-lumen silicone catheter which also provides tethering of the device for ease of retrieval.

Relevant Publications

N. Garbin, L. Wang, J. H. Chandler, K. L. Obstein, N. Simaan, P. Valdastri, “Dual-Continuum Design Approach for Intuitive and Low-Cost Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy”, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 2018, in press.

N. Garbin, S. Sarker, D. C. Sohn, P. R. Slawinski, P. Valdastri, and K. L. Obstein, “Evaluation of a novel disposable upper endoscope for unsedated bedside (non-endoscopy unit based) assessment of the upper gastrointestinal (ugi) tract,” Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, vol. 85, no. 5, Supplement, p. AB304, 2017.

Research Goals

Size Reduction

To reduce the size of BellowScope, to minimise patient discomfort and allow screening with only local anaesthetic.

Lower Cost

To develop low cost, ergonomic, mechanical control systems for steering the camera, thereby reducing procedural complexity and the associated time and discomfort for the patient.

Clinical Assessment

To assess the efficacy of the BellowScope platform under clinical conditions.


To automated the screening process using mechatronic control systems coupled with machine vision to allow the system to be deployed with minimal training.

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