Finnish researchers develop giant multi-user microscope

| March 27, 2011

Finnish researchers have created an innovative new microscope that responds to hand and finger gestures on a giant touch screen. Looks like the images are off of a Mirax scanner.


More information on MutliTouch (English pdf).

The 'multitouch microscope' is the fruit of collaboration between researchers from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), and the Finnish company Multitouch Ltd, who specialise in professional multitouch displays and software platforms that support multi-user environments.

The microscope works like a giant interactive touch screen and can be operated by multiple users, bringing new opportunities to teaching and research.

'The giant size, minimum 46 inch screen looks somewhat like an iPad on steroids,' says researcher Johan Lundin, one of the developers of the microscope. 'The sample viewing experience is like a combination of Google Maps and the user interface from the movie Minority Report.'

The resulting user experience is an entirely new way of performing microscopy. By simply touching a giant screen, in the form of a table or even a wall-mounted screen, the user can navigate and zoom within a microscope sample in the same way as with a conventional microscope. However, using the touch control it is possible to move from the natural size of the sample to a 1,000-fold magnification, at which cells and even subcellular details can be seen.

The microscope works by digitising biological samples using a microscopy scanner and storing them on an image server. Samples displayed on the screen are then continuously read from the server over the Internet and the size of a single sample can be up to 200 gigabytes (GB).

It is hoped that the accessibility of the format will encourage more students to engage with microscopy. The developers think that the method will revolutionise microscopy teaching as a group of students can stand around the display together with the teacher and examine the same sample. The multitouch function of the microscope means that a whole class of students can work on one biological sample at the same time, improving student engagement.

'The multitouch microscope brings a new dimension into interactive teaching and the learning curve is practically zero when compared to conventional microscopy which can be quite challenging for students,' explains Lundin.

Lundin also points out that the microscope will be invaluable for scientific meetings or any '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 builds on the success of another Finnish innovation – web-based virtual microscopy or the 'WebMicroscope', which was developed a few years ago by researchers from the University of Helsinki and the University of Tampere. This has been well received among students and is used at more than 10 European universities and in many countries for laboratory quality assurance.

In virtual microscopy a digital copy of a sample on a glass slide is created. A virtual slide can consist of up to 50,000 separate digital images aligned into a mosaic representing the whole sample at high magnification. The image mosaic can be viewed over the Internet using a common web browser and the user can select any area or magnification as in conventional microscopy.

The FIMM is an international research institute focusing on building a bridge from discovery to medical applications. FIMM investigates molecular mechanisms of disease using genomics and medical systems biology in order to promote human health. FIMM is a multidisciplinary institute combining high-quality science with unique patient materials, and state-of-the-art technologies.

For more information, please visit:

Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM):

To view a presentation on the multitouch microscope click here:

Category: Miscellaneous
Data Source Provider: Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM)
Document Reference: Based on information provided by the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM)
Subject Index: Education, Training; Innovation, Technology Transfer; Life Sciences; Medicine, Health; Scientific Research

Category: Pathology News

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