Researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) have collaborated with Finnish company Multitouch Ltd to create a giant touch and gesture controlled microscope. The Multitouch microscope uses a combination of web based microscopy and a 46-inch multitouch display to create what researcher Dr Johan Lundin calls "an iPad on steroids." A useful tool for interactive teaching and learning, the microscope allows users to zoom in or out with a two handed stretch or pinch gesture – all the way down to 1000x magnification.

Web based virtual microscopy was developed a few years ago by the Universities Of Helsinki and Tampere. It works with biological samples which are digitized using a microscopy scanner and then stored on an image server. The virtual slide which is created is composed of up to 50000 separate digital images organized into a mosaic of the sample at high magnification. The image size of these samples can be up to 200 gigabytes and the image mosaic can be viewed over the internet using a web browser on your computer, smart phone or in this case – a 46-inch interactive screen.

Giant, even wall size, screens could be used where groups of researchers or students and their teachers can all manipulate the image on the system, which is able to recognize the hands of multiple users at the same time.

"The learning curve is practically zero as compared to conventional microscopy which can be quite challenging for students," says the University of Helsinki's Dr Johan Lundin. "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 demonstrated in the following video: