Researchers Turn iPhone Camera into Cheap Microscope with $40 Lens

A team of researchers at UC Davis have come up with a super-cheap way of turning an iPhone into a microscope — useful for diagnosing diseases in areas where medical equipment is hard to come by. Inspired by the CellScope project at UC Berkeley, Sebastian Wachsmann-Hogiu decided to create something even smaller and cheaper. By taping a 1-millimeter ball lens embedded in a rubber sheet to the iPhone, he was able to boost magnification by 5x, which allows the camera to photograph blood cells. Only a small portion of each image is in focus, so they also utilize focus stacking to achieve more usable photos.

The best part is the price — each lens only costs $30-40, and would be even cheaper if mass produced.

The Research Paper (via Digital Trends)

  • Amando96

    You can get bad microscopes for the same price as the lens, if your budget is as big as an iphone you can get a very good microscope…

  • Acwarvf

    BUT you get the images are directly into the phone ready to send anywhere

  • Kakatua

    That’s right. Also you wont be carrying a microscope everywhere plus iPhone. Just the small lens.

  • Katamuki

    It assumes you already have an iPhone. This is a wonderful idea, but I’m curious about the rest of their setup: trays, slides, iPhone tripod to keep the distant consistent. I have a hard enough time focusing a 100mm f/2.8 lens at a 1:1 ratio handheld.

  • Anonymous

    Surprisingly good images can be had with a $5 lens:
    A tripod will make the images even better:

    Click on any of the images for a larger version…