SmartMicroOptics, a startup born as a spin-off of the Italian Institute of Technology and led by Andrea Antonini, has designed lenses that turn smartphones and tablets into a microscope to explore the world of macro photography.
We are talking about Blips, lenses so thin, just a millimeter thick, that you can keep them in your wallet, purse or even in your pocket. They can be applied to the lens of any smartphone to turn it into a microscope to observe anything that comes to mind in macro mode, or from a very close distance.
The idea and development
As we have already mentioned, the Blips were invented by Andrea Antonini, former researcher of the laboratory of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies, who, while working on the design of lenses capable of observing networks of neurons realized, through a series of tests, that applying these lenses to the lens of any smartphone was born a real microscope in pocket format.
Subsequently, in 2015, thanks to the support of Iit (Italian Institute of Technology), the project was developed and won a startup competition in Liguria. The following year the Blips were proposed on Kickstarter, where they received the support of more than 5000 people and funding of $ 218,000, a figure that goes about 15 times the amount initially requested by the Italian start up.
There are 4 types of lenses:
Macro, with 10x optical magnification, ideal for precision activities such as self-control of moles on the skin or the observation of parasites of the leaves.
Macro Plus, using a 5x optical magnification and a thickness of less than a millimeter, allows you to get very defined images of insects, flowers, small objects.
Micro, with recognition of details up to 4.5 microns in size
Ultra, is the most powerful that can reveal details down to 3.5 microns, enough to distinguish the cells of a tissue. To take macro photos with the appropriate lenses, from 5x to 10x, you just need a steady hand, while for higher resolutions (4.5 and 3.5 microns) you need a support on which to place the phone and a slide, similar to those used for microscopes.
The Blips have a great potential and they can be used in many areas such as educational use.
The BlipsLap kit 2 is on sale on the company website at 49,90 euro, but SmartMicroOptics is looking for funds to spread its products in several sectors: schools, medical practices, laboratories and research centres. That’s why it launched a campaign on Mamacrowd with the aim of raising at least 80,000 euros and a minimum investment of 499.95 euros for those who intend to become a member of the startup.
SmartMicroOptics does not stop there, in fact by the end of the year is expected to launch Diple, a micro lens that will analyze red blood cells and bacteria with a magnification capacity of up to 1000x.
A tool aimed at both students who need to use a microscope for their studies and photography enthusiasts, of course, always using their smartphone.