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Microscope on the Go: Will Your Smartphone Soon have Microscope Capabilities?

Posted In Smartphone reviews - By Techtiplib on Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 With No Comments »

There was a day not long ago when we required a new device for each unique function. A radio, a television, a computer, and a phone. But today’s world has essentially aggregated more and more of those functions into a single device—namely today’s smartphone. Researchers haven’t stopped at the obvious, either. Phones can read UPCs, scan credit cards, or take gorgeous photographs, all using a camera which is becoming more advanced with each new generation.

Fundamentally, cameras are used to capture images. We already use them as cheap binoculars. It only makes sense, then, that we would seek to add microscope functionality to our phones. How long before this is a reality?

Microscope Capabilities

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Adding Microscope Capabilities

While smartphone microscope capabilities are still in the works, phone manufacturers will be forced to decide whether they would prefer adding microscope enhancement capabilities to the smartphone itself via an application, or simply improve other features such as camera function and display quality. Focusing on other features could help third-party products which add microscope functionality work better.

The first wave of microscope functionality resulted in a number of expensive microscopes which could simply connect to a smartphone or even some tablets. Because you’re still required to have access to the actual microscope, the pragmatic uses were severely limited. Most buyers use the device to send photos to their smartphones for later analysis.

The Appscope Microscope

While not technically a microscope, this device connects to your smartphone so you can zoom in and take better pictures. For details which would normally become grainy or blurry using the basic smartphone camera, Appscope works wonders. But it’s still a long way away from magnifying an image many hundreds of times, which even basic microscopes are capable of doing. Still, this is a step in the right direction. It also gives us an idea of what’s to come.


Current smartphone innovations seem to be more focused on health than ever before. Scientists working out of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have taken the concept of the Appscope Microscope and improved upon it with health and medicine in mind. A similar, 3D printed device would help anyone with a smartphone magnify objects or substances 100x, 300x, or even 1000x. These settings would allow users to diagnose diseases, or identify dangerous parasites, protozoa, and anthrax spores.

The Best so Far

The most practical generation of smartphone microscopes so far has come in the form of a $1, 3D printed clip-on attachment. The device itself is about the same width as a typical smartphone case, assuring potential users that it won’t be an encumbrance. Because 3D printing is quickly becoming a mainstream technology, consumers will be able to download blueprints and print the device from home, likely adding to the number of base smartphone microscope users.

Will We Ever Have The Real Thing?

Of course, an attachment is one thing. Having a built-in microscope is another. If history has taught us anything, though, it’s that smartphone developers want their devices to be as versatile as possible. They want to dominate the market. If these capabilities ever reach their full potential, they will have great appeal for specialized groups or hobbyists may put them to use, but that’s about it. The real innovations will inevitably take place in developing countries which don’t have access to such expensive technology. As discussed, this has the potential to save countless lives, and make huge strides in the medical field.

Author Bio:

This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and technology. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got information for this article from the professionals of

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