A brilliant new lens attachment developed by researcher Thomas Larson promises to turn anyone with a smartphone or tablet into an armchair scientist. The Micro Phone Lens 150x, which was recently funded on Kickstarter, is the world's first device that can give any smartphone the ability to become a laboratory microscope.

The attachment is a second generation piece — a giant technological leap forward from the first Micro Lens model that magnified images just 15 times — but it's just as easy to use as the original. It fits snugly over the camera of your phone or tablet without being obstructive, and it attaches via an adhesive backing for easy installment. To make achieving sharp images really simple, the lens finds focus when you push the slide containing the specimen slightly against it. Since it's made from a pliable, platinum-catalyzed polymer, the lens is also scratch-proof and durable.

The device comes with a carrying case, a small lamp with a convenient flexible tail, and prepared laboratory slides so you can get started right away.

Larson hopes the lens can both aid scientists in the field and help kids get excited about science and exploring the world around them. It has the diversity and ease-of-use to be handy for professionals and amateurs alike. Scientists working in remote areas, where traditional devices are cumbersome, will find it particularly useful. 

The current prototype offers a resolution of about 2 Microns, but the final production version is expected to be improved to 1.5-1.6 Microns. The greatest draw of the device, however, is probably its affordability; a $29 pledge can get you the device. Meanwhile, a professional microscope with comparable power could cost you more than $2,000.

You can view the Kickstarter video about the device below:

Related on MNN:

Bryan Nelson ( @@brynelson ) writes about everything from environmental problems here on Earth to big questions in space.

Tiny lens attachment turns your smartphone into a microscope
Are you an armchair scientist but can't afford an expensive microscope? Try this incredible attachment that turns your phone into a powerful 150x microscope.