There are plenty of peripherals that turn smartphones into functional microscopes. When it comes to size and convenience, though, it's going to be hard to beat the Dotlens, a small lens that attaches to your phone camera to instantly turn it into a magnifying optical instrument.
Granted, it’s not a powerful magnifier, able to amplify the size of objects at just 15 times. Still, that opens up plenty of possible applications for hobbyists and photography enthusiasts, especially since it adds practically no size or heft to your smartphone. Seriously, the photographic opportunities this opens up are pretty awesome.
The Dotlens, which measures around the size of a contact lens, is made from PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane), a polymer with the consistency of honey that is dropped on a preheated surface for curing. At least, that’s how they originally made the first prototypes of the lenses. For this product, though, they’re using a custom inkjet printer that takes the polymer as input and cranks out finished magnified lenses. Each lens comes with a reusable adhesive on the side you attach to the phone camera, making it easy to equip and remove, with no other supporting mechanisms required. Do note, being as small and transparent as a contact lens means it’s also just as prone to being dropped and lost, so better have a small carrying case to keep it in all day.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the Dotlens. Pledges to reserve two 15x microscope lenses start at just $20. By the way, they’re also producing lenses that offer 120x magnification, although it appears to be a custom order for now and isn’t part of the crowdfunding pledges. You can email them directly if you’re interested.