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Cell Phone Microscope Accessory Launches in March

ESPOO, Finland, Feb. 17, 2012 — A pocket-size accessory that turns an ordinary camera phone into a high-resolution microscope can accurately obtain images with a resolution of one-hundredth of a millimeter.

Scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have developed an optical accessory that can examine various surfaces and structures in microscopic detail, and can take high-resolution images that can then be forwarded as MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service.

Mobile phone microscope. (Images: VTT Technical Research Centre)

The accessory is suitable for the printing industry, mobile phone consumers, the security business and health care professionals.

By attaching a thin, magnetic microscope module to the front of the camera’s normal lens, the scientists instantly turned the mobile phone into a microscope. The module comes complete with LED lights to illuminate the surface or structure being examined.

Comparison of a blood sample using a reference microscope (left) and the mobile phone microscope (right).

The device’s plastic macro lens magnifies objects in a field of view 2 × 3 mm. The LEDs, which have been fastened into the outer edge of the lens, enable objects to be illuminated from different angles to produce 3-D topographic maps, for example, using mobile phone software.

The microscope accessory also could be used to study surface formations, especially in the printing industry as part of quality control, and in field conditions. In the security business, the device could read microcode in various logistics systems, while it is also suited for studying security markings and for authenticating products as genuine as part of brand protection. In products, the microscope can detect hidden symbols that are not visible to the naked eye.

VTT and KeepLoop Oy of Tampere, Finland, a developer of optoelectronic accessories for mobile phones, are exploring the commercial potential of the device. The first industrial applications and consumer models will be released in early 2012.

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