WATERLOO -- A local tech startup has brought the vision of a clear image at any distance to life.

Scope Photonics created lenses using crystal technology, allowing photographers to zoom in and out without compromising quality.

"When you pinch to zoom to take a great photo, it pixelates and gets grainy," CEO Holden Beggs said.

The company's new lens has a solution for that problem.

"We're building a lens that can zoom and out without any physical movement without any loss of quality, effectively having a binocular or telescope in your phone itself," Beggs said.

Beggs said the lens uses liquid crystal technology, combining newly developed and existing tech.

"Now you don't need a bunch of different cameras on your phone, you just need one," Beggs said. "It can take any kind of photo you need."

The team said there are many real world applications beyond smart phones.

"Better medical imaging, so better diagnosis of diseases, better autonomous car sensors that can sense farther and make safer paths, better manufacturing so that product across industries arrive in higher quality condition," Beggs said.

The innovation was a runner up for the James Dyson Award as part of a design engineering competition.

"What set Scope apart was its unique application to a fairly common problem," said Canadian judge Blaine Kyllo.

Kyllo said the team's recognition was "quite an achievement."

"It's been incredibly humbling, to be frank," Beggs said. "To have that sort of international validation has been phenomenal."

The award came with $8,500 in prize money, which Beggs said will go towards a final product that could be market ready in the next year or two.