It's a cliché to say that your smartphone is a pocket-sized computer, but sometimes we forget exactly how powerful these devices are. BLIPS — a set of thin, stick-on lenses that turn your cell phone into a portable, digital microscope — are a brilliant reminder.
The lenses are currently available on Kickstarter (the cheapest price is €20), and come in a pack for both micro and macro shots. They stick on with reusable adhesive, and are slim enough (between 0.5 millimeters and 1.2 millimeters thick) to fit into your wallet. And if the example shots are anything to go by, they produce fantastic results:
The BLIPS micro and macro lenses kit, and a few sample images from the Kickstarter. (Image credit: BLIPS)
BLIPS' creators SmartMicroOptics say their lenses are the world's thinnest available for mobile devices, and were developed within the labs of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa. While this technology is certainly cheap enough to be used by any hobbyist interested in the world around them, BLIPS say they also think the lenses can be used by professionals, too — from scientific fieldwork to art restoration. They note that the exact amount of magnification depends on the smartphone you're using, but with the right digital zoom it's possible to magnify images up to 100 times.
This isn't the first cheap lens we've seen that can convert your smartphone to a microscope, but it is the most accessible. Foldscopes offers a similar product, for example, and its lenses cost less than $1 to build, but they're not available to buy generally, and are aimed mainly at scientific users in the developing world. If you want to remember how amazing your cell phone is, BLIPS might be worth a try.