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Turn your cell phone or tablet into a powerful 150x microscope. Portable. Affordable. Fun! Read more

Olympia, WA Hardware
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$111,645
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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on April 18, 2014.

Turn your cell phone or tablet into a powerful 150x microscope. Portable. Affordable. Fun!

Olympia, WA Hardware
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About this project

The Kickstarter is now over, which means this page is frozen and cannot be updated. If you missed the campaign, please visit to the official website at www.MicroPhoneLens.com to learn more.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

-Thomas

The Micro Phone Lens 150x is the world's first device that makes your phone or tablet comparable to a professional or laboratory microscope!

This is the culmination of over two year's worth of work, including the original Micro Phone Lens 15x. Your support will help to purchase precision optical tooling, making the Lens available to the world.

Why Pledge?

Your support will make the new Micro Phone Lens a reality! The Micro Phone Lens 150x has similar capabilities to a conventional microscope, but is ultra-portable, can take pictures, and is very affordable. Imagine:

  • At Home: Remember when you got your first microscope kit? Let's get kids excited about science and exploring the world in a fun and modern way!
  • In Schools: What if every student in a classroom had access to their own microscope? With the number of tablets (and cell phones) in modern schools, it could easily be possible.
  • Enabling Research: A microscope so portable (and affordable) would enable scientific research where it wasn't possible before. Out in the field, days from the nearest lab? Not a problem.
  • And More:  The applications of a microscope are myriad, including industrial inspections, water quality testing, and even identifying parasites and other harmful microorganisms. The 150x supplements conventional microscopes wherever cost, portability, or taking pictures is a concern.
Prototype Micro Phone Lens 150x (left) vs $2,224 Microscope w/ $499 Camera Attachment (right.)  [Phone is Samsung Galaxy S II. 'Scope is Motic AE2000 w/ 2.0 MP Moticam.]
Prototype Micro Phone Lens 150x (left) vs $2,224 Microscope w/ $499 Camera Attachment (right.) [Phone is Samsung Galaxy S II. 'Scope is Motic AE2000 w/ 2.0 MP Moticam.]

The Lens

The Micro Phone Lens 150x was designed to achieve spectacular results with absolute simplicity.

Micro Phone Lens 150x prototype.
Micro Phone Lens 150x prototype.

Features Include:

  • Powerful: At 150x magnification, the Lens is comparable to a conventional microscope.
  • Universal: The 150x works with any device with a 5 Megapixel or greater camera. This includes all smart phones, tablets, and even newer iPods.
  • Durable: Made from a pliable, platinum-catalyzed polymer, the Lens is scratch-proof and durable.
  • Stick-On: The Lens self-adheres directly to your device's camera. Just stick right on, and put away when done!

Easy Focusing:

This feature is so cool it demands its own section. 

Whereas conventional microscopes require course and fine nobs to focus, the Micro Phone Lens 150x uses an elegantly simple mechanical focusing system:  

Focus your image by gently pressing on the microscope slide. It's easy and intuitive; it makes adjusting the position of the slide by a few micrometers effortless. It works whether you have your device flat on a table (tablet or front phone camera), or are holding it in your hands (main phone camera). 

Tech Specs:

  • Approximate Magnification: 150X
  • Minimum Recommended Camera: 5 Megapixels
  • Product Diameter: 1/4'' (Approx. 6 mm)
  • Prototype Feature Resolution: Approx. 2 Microns
  • Estimated Final Feature Resolution: Approx. 1.5-1.6 Microns

Why Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a beautiful way to bring ideas into reality. It's truly amazing that people from across the globe can come together to make a project happen.

I'm coming to Kickstarter again to ask for funding, specifically to acquire the manufacturing equipment needed to make the lenses. The optical tolerances needed for this lens are technically demanding, and the equipment is expensive. Funding will also go towards fulfilling and shipping the rewards.

Sprint Goal: Funding Reached by April 1st

We've made it! All lenses will be an exclusive Kickstarter green.

Updated 3/23/2014

Reward Details

Carrying Case

A small plastic carrying case for storing the lens

 Illumination Source

A light source with a flexible tail. It has been selected for its even, collimated light as well as its ability to work with any device-lens configuration. Batteries included.

Prepared Specimen Slides

Microscope slides with a permanent fixed specimen.

The specific slides to be included will be determined at the conclusion of the campaign. I've examined about 30 different kinds of prepared slides already, and plan to test another 80 or so before it's over.

It's possible that I will ask for your opinions and preferences when making the final cut, especially for the 6 slides in The Full Package. The selection criteria is based on having a set of slides that are beautiful, distinct, fascinating, and diverse. Here are a few favorites so far:

Water Lily Stem
Water Lily Stem
Honey Bee Leg
Honey Bee Leg
Mixed Pollen Grains
Mixed Pollen Grains

Blank Slides and Cover Slips

Quality blank microscope slides and cover slips. For exploring the microscopic world all around us.

Pond Algae
Pond Algae

Production Plan

All the prototypes up to this point have been developed in a manner similar to making the original 15x lens. However, the optical components are much more difficult to manufacture this time around due to their small size. The funding from this project will be used to purchase professional optical manufacturing equipment from one of the best companies on the west coast.

Once the machinery has been received, I will be manufacturing the lenses in-house. This will allow me to carefully control quality and to make sure the lenses are ready on time.

The manufacturing equipment, slides, and illumination sources will be contracted out. I will begin making arrangements with suppliers as soon as the project appears to be funded to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. Once all the "goodies" arrive, your rewards will be packed and fulfilled in-house.

How the final Product will differ from the prototype

The biggest different between the prototype you see and the final product will be the optical quality of the lens. By using professional optical manufacturing equipment I will be able to make what is called an aspheric lens, which is much more sophisticated than the simple spherical lens the prototype uses. This will result in a much clearer image, particularly around the outside of the picture.

Other differences will likely include minor form changes to optimize the focusing feature of the lens.

A rough timeline:

March: Kickstarter campaign launch.

April: Receive funding. Order equipment and supplies.

May: Equipment, some supplies arrive. Begin manufacturing.

June: Receive all supplies. Ship rewards.

July: Finish shipping rewards in worst case scenario (but hopefully sooner).

About the Creator

 Currently in Olympia, WA, Thomas Larson is a graduate of the University of Washington, BS Mechanical Engineering '13. He began working on the Micro Phone Lens in early 2012, in the Cell Biomechanics Lab under Prof. Nathan Sniadecki. He further developed the Lens with team "Cell Focus", placing in the top 16 of the University of Washington Business Plan Competition. Upon graduation he received the UW Mechanical Engineering Outstanding Research Award for his work. To continue working on the project, he turned to Kickstarter in 2013 with the original Micro Phone Lens

The Micro Phone Lens 150x represents the culmination of his dream of making a cell phone based microscope that is both affordable, and comparable to a professional 'scope.

Risks and challenges

As with any Kickstarter project, there are risks inherent with funding something before it's been made. However, I'm very confident in my ability to execute the project within the given timeline. Here are a few comments about the last project:

"Thomas, I've contributed to over 20 campaigns here and, by far, this has been the best managed, the best thought out and the best delivered to date. I got my lens yesterday and am just having a BLAST with it."

"Thanks for a great campaign and product. This is how kickstarter should work, the immediate manufacture and dispatch of something that lived up to my expectations in every way. Having a lot of fun with the lens with my iphone 5, congratulations on your success."

While the vast majority of feedback on last project was positive, there were a few hiccups. I'm eager to take what I've learned and do an even better job this time around.

Manufacturing the lenses in house grants control over the quantity and supply available. For the "goodies" (light source and slides), I have been in contact with the manufacturers and am confident that rewards will be shipped on time in anything but the most extreme funding scenarios.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • Yes.

    Since it's an LED light, they will last a long time as well. I've used one light for 20+ hours with no dimming.

    Last updated:
  • While slides aren't required, they are very, very recommended.

    The reason is that high power microscopes need A LOT of light - and the best way to do this is to shine light directly through a thin sample - hence a microscope slide. However, some things lend themselves to being looked at without slides.

    Last updated:
  • Using a phone's main camera works great with the Micro Phone Lens. I will admit it takes a few minutes to become proficient, but it's pretty easy to use one hand to hold your phone and slide with the other free. I'll post a tutorial video later in the campaign.

    The reason the videos primarily depict using the front camera is to easier to show the lens and the screen at the same time.

    Last updated:

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    48 backers

    Thank You

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $29 or more

    313 backers

    Just the Lens: Includes the 150x Micro Phone Lens and case. No illumination source or slides. For expert users only.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $39 or more

    229 backers

    Lens and Light: Includes the 150x Micro Phone Lens, case, and illumination source. Best with slides. For advanced users only.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $42 or more

    500 backers All gone!

    EARLY BIRD - The Full Package - Includes everything needed to fully appreciate the 150x. Includes Lens, case, illumination source, six beautiful prepared specimen slides covering a variety of micro-things, as well as 10 blank slides and cover slips for exploring.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $49 or more

    639 backers

    The Full Package - Includes everything needed to fully appreciate the 150x. Includes Lens, case, illumination source, six beautiful prepared specimen slides covering a variety of micro-things, as well as 10 blank slides and cover slips for exploring.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $69 or more

    250 backers All gone!

    EARLY BIRD - The Deluxe Package - Includes everything needed to fully appreciate the 150x, and then some. Includes Lens, case, illumination source, TWENTY FIVE prepared specimen slides covering a large variety of micro-things, as well as 50 blank slides and cover slips for exploring.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $79 or more

    162 backers

    The Deluxe Package - Includes everything needed to fully appreciate the 150x, and then some. Includes Lens, case, illumination source, TWENTY FIVE prepared specimen slides covering a large variety of micro-things, as well as 50 blank slides and cover slips for exploring.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (30 days)