OLYMPUS TECHNOZONE Vol.55 2002-10
Combining a microscope with a digital camera to create a revolutionary new product!
----What inspired the creation of the MIC-D?
|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.
|The MIC was
launched for the educational market in 1959, when the Children's
Nature Watch Contest started.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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?
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.
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.
It is as old as the Children's Nature
Watch Contest. Both are in their 43rd year.
We took the venerable name "MIC" and
added "D" for "digital." The name was considered
provisional, but Mr. Osa insisted on it.
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.
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".