It’s hard to believe, but microscopy is nearly 400 years old. Since the early 1600s, scientists have sought new and improved ways to view microscopic images, record them and share them with eager students and colleagues. In 1846, major advances in microscope engineering began in the fledgling workshop of Carl Zeiss, culminating with the first sale of a ZEISS compound microscope in 1857. Clearly, ZEISS has a long and distinguished history in the development of modern microscopes. So, it is with this rich history as a backdrop that we spotlight a dramatic new ZEISS digital classroom system that promises to give a stellar performance on the stage of digital classroom microscopy.

Why a digital classroom for microscopy?

You may not remember this, but not so long ago, students had to take turns, one-at-a-time looking through the eyepieces of a single microscope. It could be very time-consuming to adjust the eyepieces between each student or wipe the eyepieces with alcohol to avoid spreading pink-eye. Beyond that, microscope images were captured using standard 35 mm slide film. If the images were out of focus or a lens cap in place, you might not find out until a few days later when you picked up an entire stack of blurry or blank photographs unsuitable for any educational purpose. For today’s students, especially those in advanced professions such as medical assistant, veterinary technician or dental technician training, larger groups of these students can spend several days a week in microscopy labs. The new training scene makes the traditional microscopy education impossible. However, these problems are solved with a ZEISS interactive digital classroom system.

A digital classroom is a state-of-the-art technology that allows for real-time interactions between teachers and students. In a ZEISS-inspired digital classroom, teachers can move unfettered throughout the classroom, talking with students, sharing digital microscope images with everyone at the same time through Wi-Fi, all while monitoring individual student microscopes through the use of an imaging app on an iPad or iPhone.

What are the components of a ZEISS digital classroom?

1. The Microscope and Camera

The star performers of the digital classroom are Wi-Fi-enabled microscopes with cameras. ZEISS nominates two co-stars for this purpose:

A) Primo Star HDcam with an integrated HD streaming camera has a Fixed-Köhler version with the Plan-ACHROMAT 100x/0.8 dry objective. For illumination, choose the 30W halogen unit or the energy-saving LED system. You can upgrade ZEISS Primo Star by adding a fluorescence tube to transform it into an LED fluorescence microscope. Primo Star also has an optional battery supply unit to keep the show going in the event of a power failure.

B) Stemi 305 cam is a compact stereomicroscope with 5:1 zoom and LED illumination for reflected and transmitted light. Samples can be observed easily–in three dimensions and in crisp contrast–with no preparation required. ZEISS Stemi 305 cam comes with a 1.2 Megapixel color Wi-Fi camera that can also connect several microscopes for image sharing. Stemi 305 is easily installed and set up, with no additional boxes or cables.

Both Primo Star HDcam and Stemi 305 cam integrate seamlessly into the digital classroom, as they are both Wi-Fi-compatible and can share digital microscope images to a wide audience in real time.

2. Labscope imaging app

The free ZEISS Labscope app makes you the director of the digital classroom with an iPad or iPhone. Through Labscope, you can display live images from all connected microscopes in the classroom, or direct images to the main display for the entire class to see and discuss. The app allows you to save your images in a .czi file format (including all metadata and a separate annotation layer) or in a space-saving jpg format. Labscope boasts easy and reliable image processing, annotation and measurement functionalities, all from your hand-held device. Students and teachers can access images within the network to share via email, social media or cloud to display images throughout the world.

We’ve come a long way from sharing one microscope and capturing images on 35 mm slide film. Today’s students and teachers benefit from more than 150 years of microscope innovation from ZEISS. The ZEISS digital classroom is geared toward ease of use, flexibility, connectivity and performance. For these attributes, we can give it a standing ovation.
The free Labscope app is available for both iPad and iPhone directly through the App Store. More details and other mobile apps by ZEISS are available at: www.zeiss.com/microscopy/apps