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Droplet – new polymer lens costing less than a cent converts your phone into a 160x microscope

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There seems to something of a revolution going on in the microscope market, what with the new low cost technologies coming on stream to let people do the job of magnifying very small stuff. Only last month we reported on the Foldscope, which is a sub $1 standalone microscope which is made from paper. And now we have another entry.

Droplet isn’t standalone, you’ll need a smartphone with a camera in order to use it, but the actual cost of the lens makes it even cheaper than the Foldscope. The lens is basically made from the same kind of plastic used in contact lenses, but only a tiny drop (hence the name) is needed to create a lens.

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Once the lens has been molded (no polishing or other complex process needed) it can be attached to an adapter and attached to the phone. The developer, Dr Lee from the Australian National University, says it can be used for a wide range of purposes, from farmers evaluating crop disease to more traditional medical needs.

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Because it costs less than a cent to produce, it’s also a perfect product for the developing world, although the fact that you need a smartphone could be a cost problem we suspect. However, the good doctor has also designed a low cost 3D printable microscope to which the lens can be attached, which sounds like a much more practical idea for those with budget constraints.

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The product has already got some interest from a German group who specialize in tele-dermatology, and we’re sure that there’ll be more potential users knocking on the door to gain access to this cool technology as the months pass. [Via]

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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