Aims: To create and evaluate a virtual reality (VR) microscope that is as efficient as the conventional microscope, seeking to support the introduction of digital slides into routine practice.
Methods and results: A VR microscope was designed and implemented by combining ultra-high-resolution displays with VR technology, techniques for fast interaction, and high usability. It was evaluated using a mixed factorial experimental design with technology and task as within-participant variables and grade of histopathologist as a between-participant variable. Time to diagnosis was similar for the conventional and VR microscopes. However, there was a significant difference in the mean magnification used between the two technologies, with participants working at a higher level of magnification on the VR microscope.
Conclusions: The results suggest that, with the right technology, efficient use of digital pathology for routine practice is a realistic possibility. Further work is required to explore what magnification is required on the VR microscope for histopathologists to identify diagnostic features, and the effect on this of the digital slide production process.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Limited.