Foldscope – proposal for development

Foldscope & camera-phone

As the Foldscope provides ready access to a world of which most users are unaware, interpretation of the images may be a challenge. Further, if used in the developing world, access to text books etc. may be limited – due to distance or funding.

There are 2 proposals to explore how to assist with this problem :

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Structure 1
A folded card design (a frame) to integrate a mobile phone with camera into the Foldscope. Thus the image is immediately available on a larger screen which may be captured & transmitted.
However based on my initial understanding of the geometry of the Foldscope & camera phones, this may not be possible – e.g. the focal length of the camera is fixed & is probably too long.

To be explored:
1. geometry of the frame
2. material of the frame
3. degree of rigidity required for stable picture taking (is folding sufficient or does it need to be glued?)
4. size – to allow for the fixed focal length of the camera lens
5. is the resolution of the most basic camera phone sufficient, minimum recommended pixel density
6. to design a means to hold the phone firmly in place – needs to be generic
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Structure 2 – a black box.
Folded cardboard, rectangular, placed on a table as stability is needed.
At one end a slot for the fold scope – to be used in projection mode facing into the box a slot or some means of securing a mobile phone with camera facing into the box.
At the opposing end a screen for the projected image – which may be reflective or translucent.

2 ideas to be developed
1. With a reflective screen, can the image be captured by the phone with sufficient clarity? If so then the image may be sent (subject to signal) to anywhere in the world for analysis. This then provides the user with access to global expertise & diagnosis, e.g. for plant pathology, medicine.
2. With a translucent screen several people can access the image simultaneously. Thus providing a training medium. This set up would be best used in the dark so that the contrast of the image is as good as possible.
To be explored:
1. geometry of the box
2. material of the box
3. degree of rigidity required for stable picture taking (is folding sufficient or does it need to be glued?)
4. size – to allow for the fixed focal length of the camera lens
5. is the resolution of the most basic camera phone sufficient, minimum recommended pixel density
6. to design a means to hold the phone firmly in place – needs to be generic
7. the degree of permitted light leakage into the box before the picture is degraded (i.e. once constructed should all corners, edges etc. be taped?)
8. nature of the translucent material/paper for optimum transmission in projection mode
9. whether one box with interchangeable ends (reflective or translucent) can suffice or whether changing the ends introduces too many points where light may enter, in which case 2 boxes would be needed.

Advantages
The design is flat-pack & cheap.
Increases the access to the image – both locally & nationally/internationally. Thus changes the social impact of the Foldscope.

Costs
Phone – but as many parts of the world are by-passing conventional land line based connections this should be a decreasing problem. If the user is really remote then a satellite phone may be needed.

Alternates
If the phone has a good enough screen then that may be used as the medium for display & dispensing with the translucent end of the box. i.e. user & viewers are all at one end of the box.

(This proposal was sent to foldscope sign-up on 20140319, registered for the beta program in April 2014)

 

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