Engineers are developing a new tool that should improve diagnosis of malignant melanoma and enable more timely skin cancer treatment.
The skin analyser tool is being developed by experts at the University of the West of England, Frenchay Hospital and Astron Clinica.
The end result should be a low-cost, handheld tool that will improve the user's ability to detect characteristics of the appearance of the skin that are not obvious to the naked eye.
Dr Melvyn Smith, director of UWE's Centre for Innovative Manufacturing and Machine Vision Systems, said: "A high resolution camera is directed at the skin and light shines from six different light sources surrounding the lens to give an illusion of 3D when the image is observed on a computer screen via a USB link.
"This will make it easier for a non-specialist to make an early diagnosis."
The researchers suggest that the tool could also be useful in burns units, as the 3D imaging will help doctors to determine the severity of burns.