The term “wireless” does not so much describe what is, but instead what isn’t. And what isn’t is wires. What’s strange about many wireless technologies is there was never a wired version to begin with so describing the device by an absent feature that never was present in the first place can be confusing to those who grew up in a post-wire world. Imagine if cars were still considered horseless carriages. Another indication of progress is the lack of a capitol letter or hyphen. For example, email officially became a thing when it changed from E-mail to e-mail, and finally to email. And the internet arrived when it no longer was capitalized in common usage. At least that is one perspective on so-called disruptive technologies.
The Celestron Micro-Fi is a highly portable handheld digital microscope/video camera released in 2014 that can magnify subjects up to 80x. Powered by three AA batteries, and carrying onboard lighting in the form of six LEDs surrounding the lens, the Micro-Fi has few limits in the field.
The ergonomics of the Celestron Micro-Fi are excellent and make for a simple effective one-handed user interface. For tripod mounting a 1/4-20 threaded port is included that provides mechanical stability when needed when distance, safety or stealth is desired. The other controls include a illumination adjustment wheel, a focus wheel, a shutter release button, and an on/off switch.
Outdoors, lichen and moss present stunning subjects for the Celestron Micro-Fi. At the microscopic scale, there is no shortage of things at your fingertips to explore, including exploring your own fingertips.
The Celestron Micro-Fi uses the 802.11x standard of wireless communication to share images and video at 15 frames per second. The 802.11 standard is the one common to wireless network routers. Someday Bluetooth may be able to carry enough information to share video, but for now the wireless of choice is something else. Why this is important is three-fold. First, the 802.11 standard is powerful enough for the lightweight battery-powered unit to send video through the air up to 10 meters and up to two hours. Second, the wireless standard is not exclusive to one pairing. Instead the the Celestron Micro-Fi can have up to three individual computing devices connected at one time. And those devices can be of different operating systems and platforms such as an iPhone, an Android tablet and an iPad.
And third, because the selected network wireless on the device must be the Celestron Micro-Fi, there will be no wi-fi wireless internet connection while using the scope, cellular data connection is unaffected if one is available on the device. However when out in the field where there is no wi-fi network, the Celestron Micro-Fi works great and nothing is missing from the usual experience.
Using the Celestron Micro-Fi App, (available on iOS and Google Play) the shutter button on the microscope captures an image onto all connected devices. I refer to this as “force feeding.” But also since the imagery is continuously viewable on all connected devices, the user of the tablet or phone can capture pictures at will. So a teacher or group leader using the Celestron Micro-Fi can force chosen images onto the devices ensuring all group members have the same base set of pictures. And the device users can supplement the forced set of images with their own picture choices taken by clicking a button in the App on the device.
Bird feathers at 80x are mesmerizing to explore. The patterns, textures, colors and iridescence is easily captured by the Celestron Micro-Fi. The transparent nose surrounding the lights and lens makes flush-focusing a snap. By literally setting the business-end of the Celestron Micro-Fi onto the subject and a bit of focus if needed, the wow just pours in. Even the youngest can use the Celestron Micro-Fi under basic-use conditions.
Museums and Zoos Everywhere
On one somewhat macabre field trip, I took the Celestron Micro-Fi out for a spin around my truck’s radiator grill. After a busy day driving through insect-rich highways, the grill was a veritable bug collection. Since the Celestron Micro-Fi has no onboard screen, the tablet must be nearby in order to focus the unit. Here is a collection of pictures taken with the Celestron Micro-Fi.