Interview with the inventor of Easy-Macro Lens
Today, it is a privilege and an honor to introduce you to Adam Hicks, an avid macro photographer and more importantly, the inventor of the highly successful Easy-Macro lens. With over 35,000 units produced for worldwide distribution, this unique Easy-Macro lens makes macro / close up photography on your smartphone or tablet extremely easy. When it is used on your smartphone or tablet camera, it increases the magnification by 4 times! Just check out the stunning photos taken by some of Easy-Macro’s fans below.
In our interview with Adam, we leave no stone unturned – we asked him about the current Easy-Macro lens and talked about his plans for the future… We even covered off how he came up with the idea and learned about the incredible journey that he went through to turn his idea into a marketable product.
We have a jam-packed interview so make yourself comfortable. The story is just about to begin…
Credit: Tara Incognita
1. Could you tell us about the Easy-Macro lens?
<Adam> I believe the Easy-Macro lens is the most useful smartphone camera add-on. Easy-Macro is the result of stripping that concept down to its simplest, most useful form. We offer the only smartphone lens attachment that fits every phone with or without a case and Easy-Macro is the only one that you can keep in your wallet so it’s never left behind! When using Easy-Macro you are able to achieve up to 4X magnification.
2. How did you come up with the idea? And did the idea originate from your interest in macro photography?
<Adam> Easy-Macro was an idea that I literally sat on for 2 years. In 2009 I owned the iPhone 3G. This was the first phone that took photos I saw as practical and I had heard about people using CD ROM lenses to take close-up photos with their phones. I had to try it out!
The tutorial I found suggested attaching the lens by taping it on with clear tape. Right over the lens! The pictures were blurred and cloudy due to the tape. With a background in optics, I was frankly offended at the idea of putting tape over my lens. After a bit of thought, I cut a piece of a shoe box to the size of a business card and made a hole near one corner. I pressed my lens in and viola! I could now just hold this card against my phone and take macro photos. This card was carried in my wallet every day for 2 years.
I worked in a laboratory setting at the time and found the accessory very handy for capturing fine detail for reports such as damaged glass or scorched electrodes. My company of 200 employees had 3 cameras that had to be checked out 2 floors above my lab, so having a way to capture the images so easily saved me from stopping what I was doing every time I needed a detailed photo. Up until this point I had only taken macro photos now and then. Now that I had a macro-capable camera in my pocket all of the time, I was hooked!
It was in early 2011 that I showed someone a photo taken with my macro lens (cracks in a small weld) and they immediately asked if they could have one. The idea of producing and selling it quickly followed, though I knew I could make it better than a lens in a card. I wanted it to work with any model phone, it had to allow the user to choose any case they want (or none at all), and it still had to fit in the card sleeve of a wallet. The idea of a lens in an elastic band jumped out at me immediately, though finding exactly the right materials for the job took some tinkering.
3. Was this your first invention? How was the overall experience of taking an idea and turning it into an actual marketable product?
<Adam> Easy-Macro is the first invention I have actually developed. I have had other great ideas previously, but never acted on any of them for one reason or another. There are about 4 that you can actually go out and buy now that others have thought of them as well and followed through to production.
Easy-Macro was a great first project because it was really inexpensive to prototype. I probably bought $100 worth of materials and tools and got to work right in my kitchen. I had a lot of fun playing around with different ideas and, when I struck on the right one (with a well-timed idea from my wife), I was ecstatic to find out just how strong it was. I had designed it for phones, but it easily stretched over an iPad! It all took about a week or so to get everything right. I then had to work on patent protection. That took much longer and was less fun, but I was ready to begin selling within 2 months.
We also made the first 10,000 Easy-Macros ourselves, by hand, at our kitchen table. There were many nights we stayed up till 3am after working all day. The most rewarding part of bringing Easy-Macro to market for me is seeing how enthusiastic my customers are about it. Of course, its popularity has meant a lot of work. My wife and I still work full time and keep investing our spare time and energy into Easy-Macro because of the potential we see in it.
4. With over 35,000 units produced for worldwide distribution, we can only reach one conclusion – your fans and customers really love your product. So if we were to ask some of your customers “What makes Easy-Macro smartphone lens so different to the other cell phone macro lenses out in the market currently?”, what do you think they will say?
<Adam> I was recently contacted by a photographer and tech blogger who had just learned of my product. In addition to shooting with her DSLR, she enjoyed taking macro photos with her iPhone using one of my competitor’s products. Her problem was that she liked having a case on her phone and she had to remove it every time she wanted to use the lens. She had spent $70 on that lens attachment and after a few uses, she put it in a drawer and mostly forgot about it. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on an Easy-Macro. I think that the ability to keep Easy-Macro in your wallet at all times is the feature that almost every one of my customers puts at the top of their list when they buy one.
In addition to the obvious convenience factor, we’ve found that the universality and share-ability of our product makes it easy to love as well. At first glance, the ability to fit any phone doesn’t seem too important (you only have one phone, right?), but if you’ve upgraded phones before, you know what it’s like to purchase $100 – $200 in new accessories to replace the ones for your old phone. Plus, not only does Easy-Macro grow with you as you upgrade, but you can share it with friends! I have plenty of customers that tell me they bought an Easy-Macro after trying out their friend’s.
5.What do most of your customers use the Easy-Macro lens for? Is it purely for leisure (eg. Macro photography of flowers and insects) or is there a wider commercial use for them?
<Adam> I think that the majority of my customers use their Easy-Macros for leisure. However, I have received emails from customers with a wide variety of professional uses. Most memorably, I’ve had an optometrist let me know that they had diagnosed an ocular mole for a patient using Easy-Macro. Though I’ve also had plenty of emails from dermatologists, veterinarians, field electronics inspectors, jewelers, knitters, cross-stitchers, model-makers, grade school teachers, makeup artists, you name it! In fact, Lancôme Paris recently purchased a large number of Easy-Macros to demonstrate a new product of theirs at makeup counters world-wide. We are very excited about this new partnership and believe that there are many other interesting niche uses that Easy-Macro would be great for! We have a growing community of customers that are sharing their Easy-Macro photos socially with the tag #easymacro. Instagram and Flickr have some great examples.
6. Where to from here? We have heard that you have plans to make the Easy-Macro lens bigger and better. In fact, you have already started the process of raising $40,000 on KickStarter (a site that raises funds for creative projects through crowd funding) to help you move closer to your goal.
<Adam> At last check, we have raised over $37,285 (93% of our goal) and we have 17 days left to go on our Kickstarter campaign. This funding will purchase tooling for a custom lens that will make Easy-Macro even stronger and more durable than it already is. The new lens has a groove around the edge which increases the area of the bond between the band and the lens. We also want to work with high quality manufacturers (we currently throw out 25% of the Easy-Macros made for not meeting our quality standards), but this requires large orders. We have found that the Kickstarter community absolutely loves Easy-Macro and the support has been fantastic.
We also hope that this funding effort will launch the business to a level where we can develop additional features. We have our eye on a higher magnification lens, a potential wide angle version, and even some filters such as polarizing and UV blocking. We think there’s a lot we can do and we’re excited to move forward. Eventually I hope to develop some other ideas outside of photography as well, but I’ll stay on subject here… 🙂
7) It was reported earlier in the year that contact lenses with built in zoom capabilities have been developed by a team of researchers in US and Switzerland. Could this be a glimpse into the next generation Easy-Macro lens?
<Adam> Maybe! We will probably have to wait until the technology matures past its current experimental military funding to become cost effective, but just look at how quickly the cameras in our phones have come along in just a few years! We are constantly amazed at the new technologies we come across almost every day.
8. Before the interview comes to a close, we thought it would be great for us to have some fun. We recently asked our Facebook fans whether they thought cell phone cameras will one day replace DSLR cameras. This sparked quite a passionate debate between a number of people and resulted in the following responses –
– 20% agreed that cell phone cameras will one day replace DSLR cameras.
– 80% disagreed and said that there is no way a cell phone camera will ever replace a DSLR camera.
As an inventor and as a person who is passionate about macro photography, what are your own thoughts on this?
<Adam>This is a tough one. There are some famous cases of very smart people making bold claims about the future of technology to be proven totally wrong only a few years later. I think that we’ve seen both technologies advance a lot recently and I imagine that DSLRs will become less useful for a larger number of people. Professionals and enthusiasts will always want the best which will mean they’ll require the big sensors and complex lens systems of DSLRs. I can certainly imagine a day when smartphone cameras are good enough for most people. I used to carry a point and shoot in addition to my iPhone 3G and I mostly abandoned it when I upgraded to the iPhone 4. I can’t wait to see far far it goes. The less I have to buy and carry with me, the better!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to discuss Easy-Macro and share it with your audience.
Please join us in thanking Adam for taking the time to share his Easy-Macro story! Click LIKE on this post to show your support for Adam and help spread the wonderful news about the Easy-Macro lens by SHARING it with your family and friends!
1) KickStarter – Pledge $10 (or more) to help Easy-Macro reach it’s funding goal so that they can improve the current Easy-Maro lens. In return, when the NEW and IMPROVED version of Easy-Macro lens is produced, it will be shipped to you in December 2013. You save $5 off retail. Note: The funding campaign will come to a close on 28 September 2013. So don’t miss out!
2) Amazon – If you need the Easy-Macro lens now, then the CURRENT version of the Easy-Macro lens is on sale for $14.95. This will be shipped to you within a few days. Maybe even get both?
For more information about the Easy-Macro lens or if you want to keep in touch with Easy-Macro, make sure you visit the Easy-Macro website!