Tiny lenses give smartphones big vision

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Blips are offered in pairs with two different magnification levels

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Perhaps above all else, the smartphone camera triumphs for capturing moments with our friends and families. With the simplest of additions, though, our phones can be used for capturing a world so small that it is barely visible to the human eye.

Like the Micro Phone Lens, Blips lenses are designed to stick onto the exterior glass of a smartphone camera, while being barely noticeable. Blips, however, are offered in pairs with two different magnification levels.

The Blips Macro lens magnifies up to about 10 times, making it well placed for observing things like bugs and insects or skin blemishes and abrasions. The optimal distance at which it works from a specimen is about 0.5 in (13 mm).

The Blips Micro, meanwhile, can achieve magnification of over 100 times and can recognize details of about 1/7000 in (1/275 mm). This means it possible to use it to look at things as small as cells, with the optimal working distance for doing so being about 0.25 in (6.4 mm).

The lenses attach to smartphone camera glass using electrostatic force, so they don't leave any adhesive residue on the glass itself. They are also mounted upon a flexible film, though, with reusable adhesive bands that stick to the body or case of a phone so as to help keep the lenses in place.

Created by Smart Micro Optics, the Blips lenses are designed to work on all models of smartphone and tablet. The company says they are small enough to to be kept attached to a device and even in a pocket without adding any inconvenient bulk. Indeed, the Macro lens is about about 1/50-in (0.5-mm) in height, while the Micro lens is about 1/20-in (1.2-mm) in height.

An accompanying app for iOS and Android allows users to take and share photos, and the Basic Kit also includes two small sponges that can be used to help stabilize a phone for focus. A more comprehensive Lab Kit includes a light source, a smartphone stage and six prepared slides at which to look.

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the Blips lenses is ongoing. At the time of writing, pledges of €20 (US$22) will be rewarded with a Basic Kit, or of €40 (£45) with a Lab Kit, assuming all goes to plan with the roll-out. Shipping is expected to begin from August this year.

The video below is the Kickstarter pitch for the Blips lenses.

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