According to White, future possibilities
for the product include a device that
connects wirelessly to a PDA or handheld
computer, which would increase the
system’s overall portability. The same
flexibility could be achieved by incorporating a computer and display into the
microscope. There is a device like this
available today from the original developer of the ProScope, Scalar Corp. of
Tokyo. Scalar’s DG- 3 combines a monitor,
a 2.3-megapixel imager and a memory
card in a completely untethered digital
microscope. However, its cost is much
higher than for the ProScope, White said.
Shown is a study determining the sequence of
multiple layering of blood for forensic analysis,
done using a handheld Bodelin ProScope
microscope. Image courtesy of BPA Consulting.
for crime scene and other investigations.
“We’re also used extensively by private
As the market has changed, the ProScope, which White said is manufactured
in the US, has undergone technical evolution. Today it has a 1.3-megapixel imager,
offers up to 400 magnification and can
attach to other optics, making it a possible
substitute for the eyepiece found in a conventional desktop microscope. The ProScope takes images with the touch of a
button, working with any computer that
has a standard USB port. White noted,
however, that the best performance comes
with a higher-speed USB 2.0 port.
“It’s a UVC plug-and-play product. So
there’s no driver,” he added, claiming that
to be a key advantage. “It can actually be
used live over the Internet.”
The company currently makes a lens set
that ranges from 10 to 400 , with another
lens of 1000 available to law enforcement
only. That restriction may eventually be
lifted, in which case the higher-magnifica-tion lenses will be sold to the public.
The device includes a mount so that it
can be held steady. It also has two imaging
modes, one where the focus is fixed at a
point such that the device has to touch the
object being examined. The second mode
provides imaging at a distance of roughly
half an inch.
The butler did it
One of the applications for current
handheld microscopes is in criminal forensics, with uses ranging from fraud to
murder investigations. Bodelin recently
announced that its product had won the
seal of approval of Frank W. Abagnale,
one of the world’s leading document
fraud investigators and the subject of a
Norman Reeves, a forensic expert who
heads Tucson, Ariz.-based BPA Consulting,
hasn’t had that kind of publicity, unless you
count fictional depictions on crime shows.
Reeves specializes in bloodstain pattern
analysis, interpreting the shape, location,
size and directionality of bloodstains found
on clothing and elsewhere. That
information can help in defining
the location of victim or as-
sailant, as well as in establishing
the actions of either or both.
At one time, Reeves did these
investigations using conven-
tional microscopes, but these in-
struments suffered from a lack
of portability and often from
inferior image quality as well.
Today, he works with a hand-
held microscope. “I can take this
with me, lay the evidence out
on a table and go to work on it.
That’s a great feature.”
Because the data is viewable
immediately, he can determine
when a particular image should
be retaken. He can also quickly
send it to a computer, where it
can be analyzed later or put
into a report. He typically
works on a flat surface and uses
a stand to eliminate movements
that would blur the image.
As is the case with other investigators who have to work
with unknown substances,
Using a handheld Keyence microscope, NASA researchers profiled a flush-mounted pressure gauge (top) and determined its
height relative to a nose cone (bottom), information important in understanding in-flight testing data. Image courtesy of NASA.