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EXO Labs: iPad Microscope/Telescope camera

The  great thing about instruments like microscopse and telescopes is that they extend our senses, open up new worlds, and let us explore right from our chair. The big limitation is that the experience was difficult to share, until now. A company call EXO Labs has created a camera which lets the user share what they see with the person next to them or a person on the other side of the world. We are thrilled to be able to take a RainyDay FirstLook at the EXO Labs’ Focus camera and accessories today.

The EXO Focus camera’s sensor is CMOS, 24-bit color, with a resolution of 2048×1536 (1.75µm x 1.75µm). However, it is much more than just a high resolution camera. It is designed to connect with an iPad (v2 and newer, iOS 6 or later, 30-pin connector) so that what is seen by the camera may be easily shared. By streaming the image to an iPad, the user can then take photos, make annotations, measurements, and more. The implications for a classroom is obvious, but that is just the beginning of EXO Focus’ potential.

The EXO Focus camera kit comes with:

  • 1 Focus Microscope Camera w/cable
  • 1 power adapter
  • 1 lens
  • 1 lens connector
  • 2 eyepiece adapters
  • 1 calibration card

What is cool about the EXO Focus is that the lens on the camera is interchangeable. It allows the Focus camera back–paired with an appropriate lens–to be used on different types of optical instruments. It can even function as a stand-alone unit.

The various lenses and accessories are:

The thing we noted immediately when we saw the EXO Focus is that this device is no toy. The camera’s sensor and electronics are housed in a heavy-duty aluminium enclosure. The adapter and mounts are metal and the lenses are glass. The Focus was designed to stand up to the rigors of a professional lab.

The hardware is just one part of the package. When used with EXO Labs’ free app (available at the App Store), the Focus camera is capable of all sorts of cool stuff:

  • Take videos, pictures & share via email
  • Make labels/annotations with color-coded markers right on the image
  • Accurately measure point-to-point with your fingertips
  • Digitally pinch & zoom
  • Wirelessly project the image to a screen or projector via iPad’s AirPlay feature.

The app is compatible with iPhone (optimized for iPhone 5), iPad, and iPod touch.

Ideas are swimming around in our heads as to what we should do first with the EXO Focus. In the FirstUse article, we will show how we attach the EXO Labs Focus to our toolmaker’s microscope and the Celestron C6. Look for it in the beginning of 2014.

As an aside, we have also been wondering how difficult it is to develop apps for the EXO Focus. We hope that when the folks at EXO Labs have time, they will release an SDK and make it super easy for IOS developers to make apps for the Focus. We can see an entire app ecosystem developing around the EXO Focus as its potential in research, science education, and field work is huge. We are going to keep an eye on these guys!!!

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