The Illumoscope — currently seeking $60,000 on Kickstarter to fund manufacturing costs — is a case for the iPhone 4/4S/5 that has built in macro photography optics plus a light conditioning system to allow for optimal illumination of whatever it is you want a closer look at. The extension means you can use the iPhone’s camera to get a lot closer to a subject than you would otherwise be able to, to capture very fine detail. Or go investigating.
Examples of things you might want to peek at in more detail include jewellery stamps, electronic circuitry, insects and detailed art works, say its creators. They also envisage various medical scenarios such as checking out your moles or looking into your inner ears for infection — rather than having to get someone else to do it for you (the Illumoscope was actually devised by a audiologist). Yes there are various macro lens iPhone accessories already on the market but the Illumoscope goes one better by supporting multiple use-cases, not merely the taking of pretty close-ups.
It also makes use of the phone’s built in flash to do the lighting up required to get a clear close-up but moderates the beam to avoid over-saturation. The basic system consists of an iPhone case (which can be reversed if you want to switch back to using the phone’s camera sans macro optics) plus a variety of attachment accessories to support the various use-cases.
Attachments include a borescope for in-ear or other nook-and-cranny investigations; an observation chamber where insects can be contained for closer inspection; and fixed view and measured view scopes for scanning large areas at high magnification. One posited scenario for the latter attachments is checking your hotel bed for bed-bugs. The creators also note the borescope attachments could be used for peeking into port openings on electronic devices — which could be handy for makers and tinkerers.
The campaign launched this week and most of the early bird $25 pledges have been snapped up already. For that pledge price you get an Illumoscope plus two observation chambers, two borescope tips, one measured view scope and the Illumoscope software (the device apparently works with “many” iOS camera apps too, though).