The little picture: Microscopes are cool. There is something fascinating about looking at objects that you cannot normally see with your naked eye. Of course, carrying a microscope around for whenever the whim might hit you is not practical. An optics startup is looking to change that with a compact device that turns any smartphone or tablet into a microscope.
Apple patented a lens mounting system for the iPhone back in 2014, but it never saw fruition. Regardless, plenty of companies have come up with attachments to add camera features to mobile phones, including Olloclip’s multi-function XS Max Clip and Sony’s QX10 zoom lens. One startup even designed a lens attachment to take 360-degree photos and 235-degree videos for virtual reality.
Now, a firm called SmartMicroOptics (SMO) has launched a Kickstarter campaign to transform your smartphone into a microscope. It has already more than doubled its goal of $27,688 by raking in over $61,000, with 26 days still left.
The project, dubbed Diple, is not your traditional lens attachment, as you might have guessed. Unlike the company’s previous Blips 5x - 10x and 20x - 150x lens accessories, Diple is more a portable platform that doesn’t really attach to the phone at all. You only need to align the device’s objective lens to the Diple’s microscope lens to see details at 35x - 1000x magnification (dependent on device’s digital zoom capabilities and the lens package purchased).
This means you don’t even need to remove your phone from its case. It also means that the microscope will work with any smartphone or tablet with a camera, and there is no external software needed for viewing. The standard camera app acts as the viewfinder and recording device.
Diple is designed not only as a fun device for the kids but one that can be used in a lab or even outdoors doing fieldwork. With that in mind, SMO designed the lenses to be durable. The company claims (and has video proof) that it can withstand a three-story drop.
Although it is not as small as a lens attachment like Blips, it is nevertheless pretty compact — about the size of a smartphone box. So it is still ideal for taking anywhere.
Early adopters who support the campaign with a pledge of 36 euros (about $40) will get the 35x lens plus the standard stage and accessories. They have several packages that offer higher magnification, but the professional bundle with the fine-tuning stage adjustments will set you back about $120.
Since the campaign has already met its all-or-nothing goal, SMO should start shipping orders out beginning in May 2020 with the exception of the $490 “5 Pack,” which ships in June.