Mega-touchscreens like Microsoft surface may have limited utility for real-world consumers (unless you live in a sci-fi movie), but they’re perfect for institutions like museums, schools, and laboratories. Now a team of Finnish scientists and technologists has done the obvious thing and created a huge multitouch microscope, so eggheads can blow up slices of mouse brain (or whatever they’re studying) for closer scrutiny without squinting into a tiny eyepiece. Take that, iPad 2!
According to PhysOrg, the 46″ screen displays biological samples after they’ve been digitized using a microscopy scanner. The touchscreen can display images up to 200GB in size — detailed enough to blow up big enough to show “subcellular” levels of detail in the samples. In other words, you can shave off a slice of tissue, scan it into the image server, and then use your hands to zoom into it so far that microscopic details become as big as dinner plates.
The giant interactive microscope could be especially useful in teaching contexts between experienced scientists and their students: “like a combination of Google Map and the user interface from the movie Minority Report,” in the words of Johan Lundin, one of its creators. Multitouch support allows several people to manipulate the image at once — great for arguing over whether that dark blotch onscreen is cancerous or not!