A Filipino engineer who invented a keychain-sized microscope won the James Dyson Award, a United Kingdom prize named after the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner.
Jeremy De Leon of Mapúa University emerged as national winner in the competition's Philippine leg, which had 47 entries from 12 universities. He also received P330,000 as a result.
De Leon's "Make-roscrope" is lightweight and portable and is made for smartphones and tablets.
"Simply place it on top of your front camera, and access the microscopic world!" reads the invention's page on the James Dyson Award website.
Said to make things up to 125 times bigger, the invention's outside is made of food-grade silicone which is waterproof and flexible.
The user-friendly Make-roscope, De Leon noted, doesn't have lots of complicated parts and sticks by itself to devices.
Wet and dry specimens may be viewed directly through it, and individuals, De Leon said, don't have to strain their necks by looking up into a lens. The specimen is easily viewable in the front camera of their devices.
De Leon said over 12 million students don't have access to laboratories and during the pandemic, students and teachers found it difficult to learn and teach biology and life sciences because labs were closed.
For him, Make-roscope could help them study science together, even if they couldn't be in the same classroom.
De Leon intends to develop a design that works best for kids aged 7 and up.
As a national winner, his entry will advance to the international stage of the competition. The shortlist of 20 inventions will be announced on Oct. 18, while the international winner and sustainability winner will be announced on Nov. 15.
Winners, handpicked by Dyson himself, will be awarded P2 million each, and international runners-up P330,000.
Participating countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.