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Blips ultra-thin lenses that turn any smartphone into a microscope

paper thin lenses smartphone micro macro blips lens
Image used with permission by copyright holder
There’s a little trick you can do to capture macro photography shots on your smartphone, using nothing more than a drop of water. The idea is the water acts as a very rudimentary lens, which has a very short focusing distance.

The problem is, these water drop lenses are lacking in optical quality and prove to be borderline useless unless you have a perfectly steady hand.

Enter Blips, a new pair of aftermarket smartphone lenses that claim to be the “thinnest macro and micro lenses.”

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Created by Smart Micro Optics and currently being funded via Kickstarter, these small, adhesive lenses take the water drop idea to the next level by replacing the fragile droplet of H20 with a specialized plastic lens designed in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Originally designed as a means to better observe neuronal networks, Blips could soon be mass produced as small, attachable smartphone lenses that allow you to capture both macro and micro imagery.

The lenses themselves are attached to a very thin piece of film, which adheres over the camera of almost any smartphone. The actual lens further flattens itself atop the plane of your smartphone’s camera using static electricity – a clever trick that yields a better image quality.

Close-up photo of a house fly leg captured with the BLIPS Micro
Close-up photo of a house fly leg captured with the Blips Micro. Image used with permission by copyright holder

In addition to being small enough to fit in a wallet, Blips lenses have a specialized surface to help keep dust and grease of the surface.

Blips Micro effectively turns your smartphone into a digital microscope, capable of capturing details smaller than four microns. For comparison, a human hair is roughly 100 microns in diameter.


Blips Macro, on the other hand, takes a slightly wider look at the world, but still giving a closer look than almost any stock smartphone camera allows. BLIPs7

Close-up photo captured with the Blips Macro. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Taking a look at the example images provided, it’s clear the lenses offer up impressive magnification capabilities. As is to be expected for plastic optics though, there is a fair bit of chromatic aberration and other optical artifacts.

If you can trade off a slight bit of quality for affordability and convenience though, Blips look to be an impressive accessory to keep on hand.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Blips still has 41 days to be funded and as of writing this, it just reached its goal of $17,000.

The early bird specials are gone, but you can pick up a Basic Kit for a $23 pledge, which will get you a single micro and macro Blips. Larger pledges include multiple lenses and customized specimens of insect parts, parasites and human tissues placed inside lab slides.

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Gannon Burgett
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