Multitouch microscope is 'iPad on steroids'

Multitouch has joined forces with the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) to create a 46” touch-controlled microscope. The medical imaging tool combines web-based virtual microscopy and large scale multitouch displays to transform the field. The development allows practitioners to use wall sized displays to navigate around and zoom in on microscope samples. With 1000-fold magnification, cells and subcellular details can be seen.

Dr Johan Lundin, senior researcher at FIMM and a creator of the method, described the 46” screen as an iPad on steroids.

Biological samples are digitised using a microscopy scanner and stored on an image server. Samples displayed on the screen are then continuously read from a remote image server over the internet and the size of a single sample can be up to 200 gigabytes.

“The sample viewing experience is like a combination of Google Maps and the user interface from the movie Minority Report,” said Lundin. “Traditional microscopes can only be used to examine a small part of a sample. A virtual microscope can be used to create a comprehensive montage of the sample. The montage can consist of as many as 50,000 images.

“The multitouch microscope brings a new dimension into interactive teaching and the learning curve is practically zero as compared to conventional microscopy, which can be quite challenging for students,” he continued. “All training related to microscopes will become digital within ten years.”

He added: “At scientific meetings this technology is excellent in a situation where a group of users need to simultaneously view a microscopy sample, for example when a consensus needs to be reached concerning a new disease entity or a rare case.”

The multitouch microscope is suitable for scientific fields including pathology, microbiology and cell biology.