Virtual reflected-light microscopy

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Research on better methods to digitally represent microscopic specimens has increased over recent decades. Opaque specimens, such as microfossils and metallurgic specimens, are often viewed using reflected light microscopy. Existing 3D surface estimation techniques for reflected light microscopy do not model reflectance, restricting the representation to only one illumination condition and making them an imperfect recreation of the experience of using an actual microscope. This paper introduces a virtual reflected-light microscopy (VRLM) system that estimates both shape and reflectance from a set of specimen images. When coupled with anaglyph creation, the system can depict both depth information and illumination cues under any desired lighting configuration. Digital representations are compact and easily viewed in an online setting. A prototype used to construct VRLM representations is comprised only of a microscope, a digital camera, a motorized stage and software. Such a system automatically acquires VRLM representations of large batches of specimens. VRLM representations are then disseminated in an interactive online environment, which allows users to change the virtual light source direction and type. Experiments demonstrate high quality VRLM representations of 500 microfossils.

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