​Filipino inventor bags James Dyson award for smartphone-compatible microscope

Jeremy de Leon, the inventor of a unique single-lens keychain microscope, has emerged victorious in this year’s national James Dyson Award. The impressive device, dubbed ‘Make-roscope’, can be attached to any smartphone or tablet, enabling it to magnify samples on a microscopic slide between 125 and 400 times. This ingenious invention, which was conceived during the peak of the pandemic, managed to outshine almost 50 other entries from across the nation.

The prestigious award, named after the founder of the renowned technology company Dyson Ltd, comes with a cash reward of P330,000. This prize money will aid in the further development of de Leon’s project. What’s more, the young inventor now has the opportunity to compete on an international platform, where he could potentially win up to P2 million.

De Leon, a proud product of Mapua University (Philippines), designed the Make-roscope with the objective of making microbiology more accessible for students and teachers. He said, “Usually, in a school laboratory, a microscope is shared by around ten students. With Make-roscope, it’s possible to have one for each student.”

Initially, de Leon aimed to support Filipino students in their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. However, he has since broadened his vision to take Philippine innovation to a global scale. “Because of the James Dyson Award, we will expand our goal of reaching not just Filipino students but every student in the world … and we will have more researchers, scientists, engineers, innovators and especially change-makers,” de Leon stated.

The Make-roscope has already supported over 3,000 Filipino students and teachers, according to Dyson. Another noteworthy invention in contention was an AI-Assisted Fes Device, designed by a group of students from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. The device, which is worn from the forearm to the hand, utilises an electrical current to reanimate the muscles of paralyzed fingers.

The team behind this innovative project included Clyde Matthew Condor, Danica Marie Dumalagan, Klyle Alexandre Luchavez and Jun Niel Paquibot, under the guidance of Prof. Luis Gerardo Cañete Jr.

A diabetes-monitoring aid project, ‘Sugar Buddy’, by University of the Philippines Diliman alumna Franchezka Oxales, was also among the national runners-up. The wrist-worn device is designed to assist children with Down syndrome in managing their diabetes through animated steps, LED lights and verbal instructions.

The James Dyson Foundation, an educational charity, runs the competition and has funded more than 300 inventions through the prize money.