An undergraduate student at the University of Washington has developed a new device that can turn any smartphone or tablet into a microscope. The Micro Phone Lens was developed by mechanical engineering student Thomas Larson, a 2013 graduate of the school.
This Micro Phone Lens consists of a soft, pliable lens that sticks to a device’s camera and uses that lens to magnify the object on the screen. The device can magnify an object up to 15 times in its current state, but Larson is working on a version of the product that will magnify up to 150 times. Standard laboratory microscopes can magnify anywhere from 50 times to 400 times, depending on the model.
The device sells for $14.99 with its own carrying case. Since it is made from soft plastic, it claims to be virtually scratch-proof.
“A microscope is a tool you can do thousands of different things with and by making it cheaper, portable and able to take pictures, you open so many different possibilities that weren’t available before,” said Larson.
While there are other products like this on the market, they all require adhesives to work. This may damage a phone over time. But no glue is required for the Micro Phone Lens. With Larson’s model, users can have the convenience of a microscope without having to worry about the effect it will have on their phone.
With regards to distribution, Larson said “I’m hoping this microscope can make a difference. If I can just make it available, the right people and experts in the field can see its usefulness and take it from there.”