Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Article excerpt

Collaborative Microscopy

Digital microscopes have been around a long time, but the latest products are truly innovative and interactive. These new digital microscopes change three paradigms. First, they are wireless. Second, they interface with tablet computers via an app. And third, the images captured by the digital microscope can appear on more than one screen simultaneously.

These new digital microscopes blur the traditions of conventional educational microscopy. Imagine students "logging into" a microscope and both taking pictures when they want as well as having pictures sent to their tablet by a button press on the microscope.

The dual autonomy of control changes the paradigm of both teaching and exploration while using a digital microscope. It also changes where you can use them; extended use outside the classroom and away from power sources is an obvious advantage of these scopes.

Three popular examples of wireless collaborative microscopes are the SmartScope iGO, the ProScope Mobile, and the Moticam-X. While wireless transmission of the images is new, the general design and operation of the scopes may be familiar. Both the iGO and the ProScope Mobile are adaptations of past designs, even to the point that some accessories and lenses from wired models work with the wireless versions. The Moticam-X provides wireless capabilities to existing microscopes. The apps to run the scopes are available for Apple's iOS, (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch); the iGO and Moticam-X also have Android apps.

Two of the scopes operate on three AA batteries, with rechargeable batteries included with the iGO. Two hours of operation is possible on a set of batteries, and since the scopes use a ubiquitous battery size, a quick refresh of batteries essentially makes battery life a nonissue or at least limits concern to the tablet's battery. The Moticam-X requires external power from either computer USB or wall charger.

Since these scopes are only viewed through an external screen connected wirelessly, some operational differences must be considered. All three scopes transmit the imagery though the 802.11 wireless protocol, which means a tablet connecting to the scopes must be disconnected from the internet. And since the scopes act as their own wireless transmitters (routers) with passwords, the viewing device will have to log into the scope using the network control panel of the tablet, and in the case of the ProScope, enter a static IP address. …

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