Background: Digital pathology provides a digital environment for the management and interpretation of pathological images and associated data. It is becoming increasing popular to use modern computer based tools and applications in pathological education, tissue based research and clinical diagnosis. Uptake of this new technology is stymied by its single user orientation and its prerequisite and cumbersome combination of mouse and keyboard for navigation and annotation.
Methodology: In this study we developed SurfaceSlide, a dedicated viewing platform which enables the navigation and annotation of gigapixel digitised pathological images using fingertip touch. SurfaceSlide was developed using the Microsoft Surface, a 30 inch multitouch tabletop computing platform. SurfaceSlide users can perform direct panning and zooming operations on digitised slide images. These images are downloaded onto the Microsoft Surface platform from a remote server on-demand. Users can also draw annotations and key in texts using an on-screen virtual keyboard. We also developed a smart caching protocol which caches the surrounding regions of a field of view in multi-resolutions thus providing a smooth and vivid user experience and reducing the delay for image downloading from the internet. We compared the usability of SurfaceSlide against Aperio ImageScope and PathXL online viewer.
Conclusion: SurfaceSlide is intuitive, fast and easy to use. SurfaceSlide represents the most direct, effective and intimate human-digital slide interaction experience. It is expected that SurfaceSlide will significantly enhance digital pathology tools and applications in education and clinical practice.