The invention of the stereoscopic microscope was a major step forward. This led to the instrument we call a surgical microscope as well as classroom microscopes used by our children for viewing insects and plant material. A stereoscopic microscope is actually two microscopes in one. Each eye is presented with a separate optical view (angle) of the sample and the human brain creates what is called "stereopsis"....3D viewing with DEPTH CUES. S3D is important to surgeons when they are performing their skills while viewing from the oculars of the microscope. A single camera mounted on a surgical microscope presents a nice 2D image...no depth cues. About 25 years ago Microstereopsis Corporation came up with a dual camera arrangement for stereo microscopes that permitted both ocular S3D as well as digital video 3D...two Sony Firewire cameras and synch doubling software running in Windows. A modified CRT displayer was required and we used active S3D shuttered eyewear for viewing....WITH depth cues for the viewer! This was all replaced by the introduction of high performance digital cameras and displayers using terms such as 1080, 2K, 4K, 8K.....you have such displayers in your home and computer workstations.
We began seeing S3D movies in our cinemas....think "Avatar". Hollywood got excited about 3D feature films and the display makers got in line with their S3D ready products. Active or passive eyewear was required. Hollywood made their films in 2D and 3D versions and charge you an extra $5.00 per ticket to return to 3D movies (think "House of Wax" ca. late '50s)...remember those red/cyan cardboard glasses we put on for the show? This is called "anaglyph 3D". Still used today by those involved with S3D imaging. Today 3D movies have left the cinema and home theaters are back to very nice 4K 2D video ...NO S3D CONTENT is easily available. Only the serious gamers are in need of S3D visualization. HMDs (head-mounted displays) such as Oculus (owned by Mark Zuckerberg).....3D fun and games. Enter VR, AR and AI......these new technologies are going to play a big role in all future microscopy.
Terms such as WSI (whole slide imaging) and interaction with VIRTUAL IMAGES has become the norm in many areas of microscopy. Look at the products coming from Bunton Instrument Company.....DIGITAL STACK AND STITCH. The virtual image has replaced 2D digital snapshots. Virtual images have fantastic resolution as a result of STITCHING that is performed with high aperture (resolution) optics. EDF (extended depth of FOCUS) as a result of STACKING multiple focal planes. Bunton and Microstereopsis Corporation are leading the way with the development of economical 3D printed hardware that simply attaches to an existing microscope with PC controlled stepper motors for moving the sample in the XY and Z. RetroBOT. So, today stereo 3D full motion microscopy is offered by firms such as Sony...very expensive and way beyond the budges of the consumer or educational department. Makers of surgical microscopes all tried S3D...Leica and Zeiss are the big players in this arena. Ask them about their products for S3D surgical microscopy. S3D is still offered by a few makers....for ENDODONTIC DENTISTRY and certain OPHTHALMIC procedures.
In the future we may see a resurgence of STEREO 3D for the consumer and educational marketplace. Meanwhile, today...
.....all of this new technology is ideal for applications ranging from the classroom to anatomic pathology. From the quality control department to MEMS device design and visualization. All of this is used with single optical channel microscopes...NOT STEREOSCOPIC MICROSCOPES. Stereo microscopes are made for viewing with a pair of functional eyes on a human. They were not designed for serious photomicroscopy. Best virtual images are created with a compound microscope using high n.a. optics. No parallax errors. Don't attempt good Z-STACKING using a stereo microscope that uses just one of the two optical channels...low n.a. and stacking errors. Single channel compound microscopes like the "KC" from www.infinity-usa.com for beautiful MACRO-MICRO imaging...any good NOZL microscope that you may already own. Contact BUNTON with any questions. We stand ready to tell you more about the future of digital light microscopy. Keep an eye on our YouTube channel.
NEW DIGITAL IMAGING SYSTEMS ARE COMING FROM BUNTON IN 2021 - DIGITAL STACK AND STITCH