In 2014, Stanford professor Manu Prakash designed a paper microscope and sent it to 50,000 people. This year, he hopes to reach a million.
The Foldscope—a super-cheap, origami paper microscope that can fit in your pocket—has made its way around the world, landing in some unusual markets. In the Peruvian Amazon, entomologist Aaron Pomerantz used the microscope in his fieldwork studying plant cells and insect larvae, without having to worry about the effects of mud splatters or rain on the instrument. In Tanzania, school kids used Foldscope to explore local water quality as a part of Project SHINE, a sanitation literacy project through the University of Calgary. It has also been used in India, Argentina, Mexico, and all over the United States, by everyone from groups wanting to detect fake drugs to kids examining the microbial quality of camel milk.