Filipino inventor wins prestigious James Dyson award for keychain microscope

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network): Filipino inventor Jeremy De Leon won the prized James Dyson Award this year for his unique keychain microscope.

The gadget lets users view microscopic specimens by placing the device on their smartphones. Thailand-based news outlet Thaiger said he also won a ₱330,000 cash reward, which will fund further research and development of his projects.

Visionaries like De Leon prove that the Philippines can drive technological innovation. His keychain microscope could facilitate science classes worldwide. Instead of relying on school microscopes, students could study samples anytime.

Moreover, it could encourage more people to learn about the subject by making it more convenient than ever.

This article will discuss Jeremy De Leon’s latest scientific achievements and explain how his Make-roscope functions. Later, I will share another one of his earlier milestones.

How did the Filipino inventor win awards?

Thaiger says Jeremy De Leon wanted to make microbiology more accessible for students and teachers. “Usually, in a school laboratory, a microscope is shared by around 10 students,” he said.

That is why he invented the Make-roscope, a keychain microscope that lets you view samples with a smartphone.

“With Make-roscope, it’s possible to have one for each student,” he added. The gadget looks like a plastic fastener with a minuscule lens in the middle. Also, De Leon bundles it with a few microscope-viewing essentials like a microscope slide, cover slip, and dropper.

That product also inspired the Filipino inventor to become a business leader by launching jereMAKE. Here’s how the device works, based on the company’s short clip:

1. Collect a sample via the dropper. Let’s say you took a few drops of water.

2. Then, put a few drops carefully in the middle of a microscope slide.

3. Place a cover slip on the sample and press it gently. Otherwise, it may shatter and cut your fingers!

4. Next, attach the Make-roscope to your smartphone’s front camera with its built-in clip.

5. Adjust the compact microscope’s lens to align with your camera. Open your Camera app and confirm it views through that microscope lens.

6. Then, put the sample slide on the microscope with the specimen directly on top of the camera lens.

7. Afterward, your smartphone will enable you to view microorganisms in the liquid.

Thaiger says the Make-roscope can magnify samples by 125 to 400 times their size. Eventually, this Filipino invention outshone 50 competitors and won the 2023 James Dyson Award.

The Filipino inventor’s gadget was noteworthy even in its prototype stage. In 2021, it earned the Mapua University researcher 1st place in the TikTok Hashtag Challenge.

Jeremy De Leon created the first keychain microscope with lenses from a laser pointer, a hairclip, and his mobile phone. This initial model cost roughly ₱35.

Believe it or not, the pioneer also bagged fourth place with another invention. It was a flashlight microscope-projector that used mobile phones.

The first place had a cash prize of ₱20,000, and the fourth had ₱5,000. Consequently, the TikTok contest earned him ₱25,000 in total. In response, DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit praised the Filipino inventor:

“We commend the amazing ideas and inventions of our Filipino TikTok creators who came up with these innovations. We have high hopes that more Filipino scientists and researchers, especially the young ones, will continue to take their science journey to make incredible finds, make more discoveries, and achieve significant milestones.”

TikTok’s Head for Public Policy, Kristoffer Rada, added, “TikTok has grown to be a home for a diverse array of creators, and we are very pleased on how this competition has highlighted Filipino talents in science and technology.”

“We hope to continually engage this vibrant community. Through the #PinoyInnovator TikTok challenge, a lot of young content creators will be inspired to become innovators who will change the future and make new paths possible.”


Filipino inventor Jeremy De Leon won the James Dyson Award for his keychain microscope. He shared this inspiring message regarding his future goals:

“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.”

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