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OLYMPUS TECHNOZONE Vol.55 2002-10

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Combining a microscope with a digital camera to create a revolutionary new product!

Sumio Kawai A microscope shaped like a bug
Sumio Kawai
Canister and a Model with a monitor
Sumio Kawai
Three prototype models on display at Olympus Technology Fair 80 (December, 1999)
(Upside) A microscope shaped like a bug. Images can easily be transferred to a personal computer. With interchangeable object lenses, this uniquely designed model also comes with a variety of accessories and is real fun to play with.
(Downside-Right) A model tentatively named "Canister", it's easy to carry around just like a water canister. The MIC-D is based on this design concept.
(Downside-Left) A model complete with a monitor for group viewing and discussion.
Sumio Kawai
MIC
Sumio Kawai
The MIC was launched for the educational market in 1959, when the Children's Nature Watch Contest started.
Sumio Kawai
----What inspired the creation of the MIC-D?

Osa: 
When we were just beginning to establish a market position for digital cameras, General Manager of Product Development Department asked me a number of times if we could create something interesting by combining a microscope and digital camera. Subsequently we decided to display a concept model at the Olympus Technology Fair 80 (OTF80).

Suzuki: 
We made three types for OTF80. One was in the shape of a bug and was designed to be used in the same way as a magnifying glass. Also, the second type is provisionally called the "Canister" because you could hang it from your shoulder like a water canister. The third one was designed for use in high school and university laboratories. The concept was that students would engage in group discussions while looking at images on the monitor, which was integrated with the microscope.

Osa: 
The Canister was very popular within the Scientific Equipment Division and also attracted considerable outside interest at OTF80. This encouraged us to start work on the development project for the MIC-D.

Kanao: 
Olympus has co-sponsored the Children's Nature Watch Contest for 43 years. A natural science observation booth was set up at OTF80, and the three models were displayed there.

Osa: 
The MIC-D was designed for educational use in elementary and junior high schools, so we reviewed the history of the Children's Nature Watch Contest. Originally it was called the "Children's Microscopy Contest." The entrants were children who enjoyed looking at magnified images of small objects. They had teachers who liked microscopes and were enthusiastic educators with the ability to allow children to explore their own ideas. I was very impressed by the children's extremely simple yet fascinating ideas.

Kanao: 
The microscopes that we developed are mostly sophisticated products used by researchers, and their operation is also very complex. The controls on the MIC-D consist of just two knobs for focus and brightness. It is extremely simple.

----Is the optical system comparable to that of a biological microscope?

Osa: 
Children will quickly get bored if they cannot observe whatever takes their interest. Professional researchers have the same feeling. Professionals have their own microscopes designed to provide optimal performance for observing particular objects of interest, and such instruments cannot easily be used to observe other types of objects that they are not designed for.

The MIC-D is similar to a stereo microscope, but it has also been developed in another direction. Though it is an educational product for children, I also created something that I would want to use myself.


----What was the origin of the name?

Osa: 
I chose the name.
The product is intended for the educational market. It is based on the name of a microscope called "MIC" which was first launched in 1959.


Kanao: 
The MIC is a standard microscope for use in elementary and junior high school education. It is still a current product which remains a best-seller.

Osa: 
It is as old as the Children's Nature Watch Contest. Both are in their 43rd year.

Kanao: 
We took the venerable name "MIC" and added "D" for "digital." The name was considered provisional, but Mr. Osa insisted on it.

Hirano: 
On the cover of the catalogwe played around with the name to create the catchphrase "MIC-Do it!" We dotted the "i" with a "@" to provide a link to IT education.

Osa: 
Those who see the brochure can decide whether or not that's witty, but what is clear is that the original MIC microscope was an excellent product. We acquired the "MIC" trademark as abbreviation of the word "microscope".
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