There are plenty of apps and lenses that allow you to use your phone’s camera as a functional microscope. Problem is, the stock lenses on modern smartphones don’t really bring the same kind of magnification you can get from dedicated versions of the optical instrument. So if you want to turn your phone into a powerful microscope, you’ll need to supplement its optical capabilities and that’s exactly what the iMicro does.
A small lens that snaps on top of your smartphone’s camera, the device gives your phone a more powerful lens that, the outfit claims, allows it to rival the performance of a proper compound microscope that costs a couple thousand dollars. Whether you’re a student who regularly uses microscopes, an amateur scientist who likes to play with one, or a professional who wants a compact device for use at home, this tiny lens is enough to put a powerful optical instrument in your hands.
The iMicro is a small device clad in a semi-teardrop shape with a multi-aspherical lens on the wider end of the tool. According to the outfit, the lens’ dedicated design, in conjunction with the optical hardware already on the phone, achieves high magnification performance and low aberration, ensuring it produces a high resolution image with no discernible distortion even on the edges. When used, the device is able to achieve 100x full optical magnification, with the ability to achieve up to 800x magnification with digital zoom involved (exact maximum magnification depends on the phone model).
An integrated light guide on the device captures the LED flash on your phone and orients it to directly illuminate whatever sample you’re looking at, ensuring every image you magnify is adequately lit. Do note, you’ll have to place the light guide over the flash, too, so make sure you line up everything correctly before using it. Because of this, it requires that the camera’s flash be situated at a distance between 5mm and 16mm away from the camera’s lens.
The iMicro snaps to the back of the phone using one of those high-suction nano-pads, which can stick onto smooth non-porous surfaces without the use of any adhesives (no messy residue). That means, it can stick properly to the back of the phone whether it has a case or not, so you don’t have to remove your phone case in order to use the microscope. Like other nano-pads, it should retain its suction capability for a very long time, requiring just a little handwashing to clean any dirt that accumulates whenever the suction starts feeling a little weak.
Of course, the device comes with a companion app (iOS and Android) that’s equipped with the microscope function, which is optimized to take advantage of the optical tools provided by the physical hardware. The app, by the way, takes advantage of the autofocus in modern phones, which should help you take clearer images, regardless of whatever items you’re looking to get a magnified look at.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the iMicro. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at CAD$39.