While it is simple to use the Foldscope, extensive development, prototyping, and design for manufacturing went into producing the tool. The design leverages recent advances in micro-optics as well as the concept of "flat manufacturing" for large-scale production. To learn more, please read details in open-access Foldscope paper.
Cybulski JS, Clements J, Prakash M (2014) Foldscope: Origami-Based Paper Microscope. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98781. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098781
Is the Foldscope design changing from the Foldscopes distributed in the pilot program?
Yes. The new design has changes that make it easier to assemble, and easier to modify the focus and keep a locked focus. We're excited to share the new design with you all!
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 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!
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. We recommend usage for kids 8+.
What is the global reach of Foldscope?
During our pilot testing, we distributed roughly 80,000 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 (targeting a million Foldscope by summer 2018). 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.
Your support of our tools allows us to expand our work in communities that have no means to get access to these tools. Much of our work with resource poor communities is supported by people just like you. If you would like to, please consider making a donation.
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…