When will I be able to buy Foldscopes?
We founded Foldscope Instruments in December 2015 with the goal of ramping up production of Foldscopes. During the process, we have added new features, incorporated user feedback, and bootstrapped our efforts with support from foundations and other partners. We are now ready to announce that Foldscopes will be broadly available for sale in 2017. For early adopters, our Kickstarter campaign is set to launch in late November 2016, at which point contributors will be able to order units and be among the first recipients of the next round of production.
Will Foldscope really be sold for $1?
The short answer: yes. The long answer: our vision is to bring scientific tools to the broadest group of people globally. To make this work sustainable, we hope that participants will support our efforts to engage both developed and developing economies. Foldscope kits will be available in various forms: as individual kits or classroom kits, with different amounts of accessories included. All of this will be reflected in price, but large classroom kits (200 units) will indeed cost one dollar per student, which we are very proud of. Further details will be shared in our Kickstarter campaign.
What ages can use the Foldscope?
Foldscope has been enjoyed by users across all ages, although naturally some help and supervision will be required for the youngest kids. Foldscope can be used for both the simplest observations and for thorough scientific studies, and all places in between.
What is the global reach of Foldscope?
During our pilot testing, we distributed roughly 50,000 Foldscope units to 135 countries, building a community of users around the world. As we scale up production, we hope to expand our reach even further. As a globally focused organization, we hope to democratize access to science across resource-rich and resource-poor areas, and to uncover the amazing biodiversity of the entire world.
What is the Foldscope community?
We believe that the most important aspect of our company is not the tool itself, but the communities that use them. By broadening access to scientific tools, we have seen an incredible diversity of applications for Foldscope, many of which we could not have ever foreseen. The Foldscope community spans many countries, many ages, and many levels of scientific background. Our members share their experiences together in the Microcosmos.
Do I need a camera phone to use the Foldscope?
No, it's not required. Foldscope is designed as a "stand alone" instrument. You can couple it to a camera phone to record images and movies, but incredible amounts can be learned and experienced just by looking at samples. Many users record their experiments by drawing what they see. Using the Foldscope in “camera lucida” mode allows users to draw directly on a projected image (example here: https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=17097). Foldscope is compatible with almost all camera phones, and while they are very useful for digitally recording observations, they are not essential for enjoying and learning from the Foldscope.
What is the optical performance of Foldscope?
We have tested many lenses. In the next phase, Foldscope will utilize a 2.38 mm borosilicate glass lens, which provides 140x magnification and 2 micron resolution. This is sufficient to distinguish red blood cells and even watch live bacteria.
What can you see with the Foldscope?
So much! See for yourself on YouTube or our Microcosmos community website. Foldscope can be used to observe biological samples like bacteria, copepods, tardigrades, tetrahymena, diatoms, rotifers, nematodes, spider eggs, ants, vorticella, mites, daphnia...pretty much anything you can stick on a slide. Foldscope can also allow the observation of non-biological samples, such as particulates detrimental to air quality, or the microscopic crystalline differences between real and fake medications. Despite a number of amazing applications already demonstrated, we know there is so much un-tapped potential. Make the journey your own!
Will Foldscope Instruments make anything other than the Foldscope?
Yes. In our pipeline, we are working on several other instruments which we will be announcing similar to our Foldscope beta user program. Stay tuned…