Friday, August 7, 2015

Cheap, Re-usable Cell Phone Microscope? Yeah, It's A Thing...

For the last couple of years I have been exploring the idea of intelligence support to entrepreneurs.  The cool thing about this is that I get exposed to lots of new ideas.  The most recent - and one of the most interesting - products I have seen is the Button Microscope.

This is a microscope that you can attach to the lens of any cell phone with a camera.  It immediately turns it into a powerful microscope.  To be honest, others have done much the same thing but their products tend to be clunky, DIY projects that require far more patience than I have for that sort of thing.

The Button Microscope just works.  More importantly, it is going to be pretty inexpensive to produce and re-usable as well.  

I can't show you the prototypes I have been playing around with this morning (top secret, hush-hush stuff, you know) but I can show you some of the pics I took with them (with zero training I should add).

This first pic is one of a piece of graph paper I had lying around.  I edited both the left and the right image for size and brightness in the online photo editor, PicMonkey, but other than that both images are straight from my cell phone.

You can get a little bit better feel for the power of the microscope in this image.  On the left is the venerable Intelligence Analyst's Deck Of Cards (still available for sale...ahem...).  On the right is a close up of the box (focused on the "L" in "Analyst's").  You can see that the microscope has a distinct focal point and that the image blurs some at the margins.  That may be an existential feature of the device or it may just be that I am a pretty poor photographer.  I'll need to play around with it some more to see.

To me, this is the most impressive image set.  On the left you see one of the playing pieces from my game, Cthulhu Vs. Vikings.  On the right you see an image taken using the Button Microscope from the top down.  These pieces were all printed on the 3D printer and the macro view allows you to see every layer quite clearly and captures a surprising amount of detail even as the playing piece recedes from the focal point.

The broader intel/investigative implications of a device like this are pretty interesting to contemplate.  Clandestine collectors who are looking to get extreme closeups of, I don't know, circuit boards and such will love it.  Investigators look for trace evidence or fingerprints are going to love it too (If you have a clever idea for something like this, drop it in the comments!).

When can you get one of these amazing devices for your own cell phone?  Well, we hope to launch a Kickstarter campaign in October to fund the initial production run.  

Next we will add a mass spectrometer (currently available for $249 - no shit) and we will be well on our way to a tricorder.  Oh, wait.  That's due in January.