Gigantic touch-screen microscope enables collaborative research

With the belief that "all training related to microscopes will become digital within 10 years," Johan Lundin, MD, Ph.D., from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland and his team of researchers collaborated with MultiTouch Ltd. to develop a "virtual microscope" using a 46-in. LCD touch-screen display.

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ByLEE MATHER

With the belief that “all training related to microscopes will become digital within 10 years,” Johan Lundin, MD, Ph.D., from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM; Helsinki, Finland) and his team of researchers collaborated with MultiTouch Ltd. (also of Helsinki) to develop a “virtual microscope” using a 46-in. LCD touch-screen display. The display “looks somewhat like an iPad on steroids,” says Lundin.

The virtual microscope created by the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland and MultiTouch Ltd. uses a 46-in. LCD touch-screen display that can store as many as 50,000 images for analysis.

Looking to build on its existing WebMicroscope technology—which allows microscopy images as large as 400,000 × 200,000 pixels to be viewed on computers over the Internet—FIMM thought that a large touch-screen display could be a more effective way to analyze microscope samples, says Hannu Anttila, vice president of sales at MultiTouch. And the display can be used to create a comprehensive montage of the sample that consists of as many as 50,000 images, says Lundin, unlike traditional microscopes, which can only be used to examine a small part of a sample.

The smartphone- and tablet-like LCD touch-screen display is based on MultiTouch’s Computer Vision Through Screen touch-sensing technology, where the cells can recognize an unlimited number of touch points, users’ hands, and even optical markers, Anttila told BioOptics World. The technology relies on infrared (IR) cameras placed behind the LCD panel, while computer vision algorithms detect users’ hands from the camera image at 100 fps. But unlike smartphones and tablets, which can be controlled with fingertips, both palms are needed in order to enlarge an image.

Also, the touch-screen displays are the only displays able to be stacked freely to larger walls or tables, says Anttila. For example, they could be used as larger video wall-type installations used in front of larger group of medical students, adding a new, interactive dimension to teaching.

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