back to article Italians rattle little tin for smartmobe mini lenses

An Italian "microscopy, consumer electronics and micro-optics" outfit is offering smartphone and tablet owners the chance to get up-close and personal with the world via "an ultra portable and very affordable set of 2 mini lenses which turns your smartphone or tablet into a digital microscope". Working with the Istituto …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Sounds like geckos' feet

    Medical bods have been interested in a non-adhesive but very grippy surface for a while - potential applications include holding back skin during surgery.

    Geckos achieve this by having an extremely high surface area of their pads - a surface which sub-divides many times.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Sounds like geckos' feet

      Gecko feet exploit the van der Waals force. As far as I can tell this is different from an electrostatic force as mentioned in the article. This looks to be more like how vinyl "L" plates for sticking inside car windows can stick to the glass without adhesive. I *think* that's an example of electrostatic attraction, at any rate.

  2. DropBear


    It's almost comical how industriously they avoid showing the _front_ of phones with the lens installed - unsurprisingly so since on my phone for instance the strip would fold exactly over the speaker grille. Not to mention that they only show aluminium unibody phones - I'm not so sure the slightly textured back of my Samsung Galaxy would make for a great adherence around the camera.

    At any rate, this will likely get used maybe ten times then forgotten at the bottom of a drawer by most people - if you genuinely have a regularly recurring use case, you're much better off with one of those ubiquitous dirt-cheap USB microscopes, even if it isn't particularly high grade: at least those have lenses matched (and fixed) to their cameras, for better or worse. You can even connect one to your smartphone to watch comfortably while you poke around somewhere with the pen cam at the other end of the cable...

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Meh...

      I would have thought the re-usable bit means you can remove it rather than leaving it permanently installed so would not worry about the speaker grill. The rest of your assesment about usefulness is about right though.

      Although then again at 20 euro it's the sort of thing I might shove in something like a earphones case and carry about when travelling just for novelty.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Meh...

      Why would you want to put it on the front camera ?

      Even if you're planning to take a zit-selfie you won't be able to see the screen when the camera's in focus.

    3. Blips

      Re: Meh...

      It’s almost impossible to show how BLIPS performs on all smartphone models, but we certainly don’t try to avoid showing anything. For example, in the video, around sec 20, you can see how the front side of an iPhone with the camera near the corner looks like with BLIPS already in place, and after about 1’35” you see how the front side appears on a Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo. Moreover, as explained in the video after 1’24”, the film can be cut away in order to adjust it for fitting any shape. The claim that we only show aluminum phones is incorrect, as in the movie and in the campaign description you can see different models (Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo and Galaxy J5) of smartphone with plastic bodies; on phones with glass bodies BLIPS have an even improved adhesion.

      BLIPS can stay inside your wallet or even on your phone. If you prefer bulky, and more expensive, objects in order to avoid losing them, you need products with different characteristics, but trust me, we really did our homework on this one and working with IIT means working with top notch scientists that approach problems from more angles that I could have anticipated by myself. I trust that BLIPS is a really neat product and the whole team has put serious passion, love and time into it.

      BTW, anyone that cares about privacy, can attach BLIPS to the PC / Mac Camera when not in use, or even the dreaded TVs with cameras that are so often hacked and produce different versions of blurred images in order to protect privacy. After all BLIPS does not leave residues on devices and can be used again and again.

  3. tony72

    Might give it a try

    I use a USB miscroscope plugged into my phone via an OTG adapter, which is nice because where you want to put the microscope and where it's convenient to hold the screen are often not coincident, but of course that means lugging around an extra piece of kit if I'm not at my desk. I might be willing to give these things a try, although I'm kind of sceptical that they will be good enough for my purposes, but as a casual thing to carry at all times, pretty cool.

    1. kmac499

      Re: Might give it a try

      Well If you're gonna make your own endoscope a USB microscope is a lot more "user friendly" than ramming a phull sized phablet through the chosen orifice....

      As for the lens I think Mr Lee Van Hooke has the patent on that design.

  4. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Not exactly inspiring images

    I second the other posters who suggest that if you just want to get a close up view of your world a USB microscope is the way to go. Even better get a USB otoscope/endoscope. You can put those in places a smartphone just wouldn't go.

    (Your ears of course - that's why they're called otoscopes.)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Agreed. The macro image seems interesting and good enough, but the micro image doesn't really impress me.

      I didn't know they made USB microscopes. I'll have to look into that.

      1. Simon Harris

        "I didn't know they made USB microscopes. I'll have to look into that."

        My sister's kids had one about 10 years ago - it was just a webcam with some crude microscope optics - it was a bit pants really. Hopefully they've improved since then.

      2. Tom_

        "I didn't know they made USB microscopes. I'll have to look into that."


        1. Blips

          Portability and affordability are two key features of BLIPS. You can keep BLIPS with you wherever you go, in your wallet, pocket or directly stuck on your smartphone. USB microscopes are bulky accessories, as you mentioned, but can allow you to split the screen from the observed subject. These are different options for different necessities.

      3. Blips

        Every single image in the campaign is shot with BLIPS without trying to make them absolutely perfect, as we're still developing the app that allows to freeze the focus and turn on the light. Once that is finished, everything will look pretty good as well. We also worked on a stand and ways to support taking photos with the micro, but unfortunately while preparing the campaign most photos were shot without these useful tools. Remember this is a Kickstarter project, therefore a work in progress and it involves testing and bettering all the tools needed.

  5. Tikimon

    I'd better abstain from this one...

    I think I jinxed Dotlens. I funded them, they canceled and restarted. I funded them again, they got flooded out. THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS...

    1. Blips

      Re: I'd better abstain from this one...

      Some issues with the dots are that they're awfully easy to lose and that you always have to touch them in order to place them and remove them. We thought about BLIPS in practical ways as well. BLIPS is really hard to lose.

  6. Robert Helpmann??

    Or, you could just throw something together...

    I ran across several DIY microscope builds for smart phones; I like this one best. I forwarded them on to a number of teacher friends and got nothing but happy feedback. Having their kids help with putting the parts together and then being able to take pictures home with them really engaged them in ways that simply looking through an eyepiece did not.

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Pseudonymous Diehard

    Thank god.

    We finally have a tool for reading a printed EULA.

  9. Simulacra75

    DIY it!

    Take a jewellers loupe, a 10x is a good place to start. Unscrew the lens out of it and blu-tac it onto the lens of your phone. Did this with my S5 and was able to take reasonable macro pictures of flowers and other items. Results are okayish, a little blurry at the edges but does the job.

  10. Aslan

    It's cool but ultimately not that useful. 1200x is necessary to see if a sample is contaminated with bacteria, anything less is a toy. I wonder though what's the lag from source to screen for realtime applications, such as soldering a circuit board perhaps? I know the answer would be very device dependent.

  11. Blips
    Thumb Up

    Now I am going back to work and taking care of the campaign...There's so much to do!

  12. framitzula

    My Loupe is just fine

    I just hold a jeweler's loupe in front of the lens. Works great and cost nothing extra.

  13. Blips


    We can open bottles in many ways, but we still purchase bottle openers because they're practical and the same can be said for 1000s of objects...BLIPS is a tool that can be replicated in a number of ways, but I worked and studied to create something affordable, useful and practical, there's a lot of work and sweat behind it, even just setting up a campaign, or production...Creating BLIPS requires a vast set of skills in a number of fields, but we love challenges and also feedback...Now back to work

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