ProScope is the leading manufacturer of digital handheld microscopes. This is not just a marketing statement. We are the primary innovator in the industry and we really are the leader. You can see why here: Why ProScope?
In the 16th century, two Dutch spectacle makers invented a prototype for what would eventually become a familiar lens within a tube that provided a close up view of items that were too small for the eye to see. That invention revolutionized everything from the way we treat disease to our understanding of how plants feed themselves.
Since that time, microscopes have fascinated adults and children alike.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and microscopes are an integral part of science with a place in classrooms, law enforcement and industry.
So, wouldn’t it be nice if you could take the lab into the field?
In 2001, optics met technology and the ProScope family was born. Scalar Corporation of Japan, which holds the original US patent for handheld microscopy, is a company founded by brilliant optical and electrical engineers, said Clay Baker General Manager of Bodelin Technologies.
The company brought its invention to the MacWorld Expo, an annual trade-show dedicated to promoting all things Apple. The microscope sported a 640x480 resolution and a Sony CCD imaging chip – the same used in digital cameras at the time. It was the first handheld digital microscope in the world, and the options for use were limitless.
Scalar had 20,000 microscopes in stock, but had only sold a handful, Baker said. They had limited marketing experience and no idea how to market or sell what the company was calling “The Scope.”
The engineers were looking for distribution and Bodelin agreed to sell the scopes as long as it had exclusive rights to the product. Scalar agreed, on one condition, Bodelin must take the lot.
Sales were slow at first, “it took about 3 years to hit our stride” Baker added. Peter White, who was instrumental in launching and promoting the product, made sure the microscopes were seen by people at Apple and featured in magazines like Wired and Popular Mechanics. Since that time, ProScope can be found in classrooms, quality assurance departments, forensic labs, hair and beauty salons as well as in use by hobbyists of all kinds.
The original scope, rebranded as ProScope, saw sales of the world’s first cutting edge hand-held touch view microscope soar. The ProScope instilled “instant fascination from the casual observer,” Baker said and could be used to magnify everything from tire tread to tree bark with the ability to save the images, and even moonlight as a webcam.
It was a way to look a bit closer at the everyday things, items you carry around in your pocket or find on your desk he said. The image was so clear and so precise they called it the ProScope Polygraph. You could actually use it to watch perspiration seep from the pores of your fingertips and bead on the skin, in real time.
Since that time, ProScope iterations have improved, and more types of scopes added to the line.
In 2006, Bodelin licensed the Scalar patent and started manufacturing ProScopes in Oregon. The ProScope upgraded to the HR, which worked with newer 64-bit computers as opposed to only 32-bit models. The HR, was a hi-resolution scope with 1.3 megapixel imaging that no longer required separate drivers to work, instead it utilized the native system driver, becoming a fully plug and play scope. The ProScope HR2, which is the newest iteration, utilizes a 2 megapixel imager, the same high-quality Aptina imaging technology used in surveillance cameras. The HR2, like the HR works with Windows, Mac and Chrome computers running a contemporary OS.
Released within a year of the HR2, the ProScope Mobile is the first Wi-Fi enabled microscope in the world that works with multiple iPhone and iPad via a static, secure, wi-fi connection.
The HR, HR2 and Mobile use a fixed focal length lens, Baker said. When you touch something, you’re in focus, and measurements can be calibrated with accuracy and repeatability. Handy when you are keeping track of the size of a mole or measuring small part dimensions.
Now popular in schools, science labs and industry, what are the bonuses of working with these hand-held scopes?
Each scope sports LED lights, that can be controlled on the HR2 model, or can be turned off when used with a light pad or back lighting. And all lenses – from the 0-10x to 400x – will work with the HR, HR2 and ProScope Mobile. Two additional lenses – 30NX and 50NX – offer magnification with a polarizing filter, preventing reflection that can make surfaces – such as skin – tough to see. Customized kits that include a case and stand, base and lenses are available.
New measurement software also offers on-screen tools, for a way to measure the size of what you are viewing.
Baker added that clean up is easy. For the lenses a little rubbing (isoprophyl) alcohol on a cloth will work well. For debris on the inside of the base, simply blow it out with canned air.
By 2013, ProScope was ready to launch a scope called the ProScope Micro Mobile that mounts directly onto a device – such as an iPhone, iPad or some Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Each PMM attaches to a case, also called a sleeve, that snaps onto the back of the device. Each sleeve fits a different device, so with the additional purchase of the appropriate sleeves, one scope can be used on multiple devices.
The ProScope Micro Mobile allows you to see, magnify and capture images direct from your device. Magnification from 20X to 80X is controlled by the camera app on your iPhone or iPad and LED lights can be adjusted for optimal light on your subject.
In late 2015 Bodelin released the ProScope EDU, an affordable tabletop microscope that offers 10X to 300X magnification with an included adjustable stand and LED lights for illumination. Connected by USB, the EDU sports a 5 megapixel imager with a single, variable focus lens. Software is available for both Mac and PC.
Still, many scientists and schools prefer traditional optical microscopes for some applications where handheld is not an option. With that in mind, just this year, Bodelin added a 5 megapixel camera to it’s offerings that attaches directly to the microscope. Available with several adapters – 23mm, 30mm and 30.5mm – the ProScope Microscope Camera slides directly into the lens tube of an optical microscope and wirelessly connects to computers including PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices as well as PC, Mac and Chromebooks via USB.
Have more than one scientist in the room? No problem, as many as 7 Wi-Fi devices can connect to the camera.
What’s in the works for the future? Baker was mum on the subject, but the website is currently in the midst of an upgrade, and will be a great place to keep an eye on up and coming technology.