Sponsors: National Science Foundation

Project Overview:

The VRMacroscopic is a custom built opto-mechnical system that can capture 360 degree stereoscopic panoramic timelapse videos of microscopic scenes and generate stitched frames in realtime.  When the content is viewed in a virtual reality environment (headset or immersive theatre) the effect experienced by the viewer is that of becoming a miniature explorer, approximately 5mm in size, and placed in the center of the microscopic scene.  Since the system records time-lapse videos the viewer can explore typically invisible phenomena through novel manipulations of both time and space.

General Information:

The VRMacroscope is a custom developed quasi-plenoptic 360 degree microscope that enables a new kind of view into microscopic worlds through the magic of stereoscopic VR content. The sample time-lapse videos and stills shown below display captured cylindrical images that are 10mm high by 32mm in diameter, which in standard macrophotography represents close to 1:1 magnification.  The optical system is flexible, however, allowing for magnification and focus to be adjusted from infinity to 2:1 without modification to the mechanical system configuration. The VRMacroscope makes use of a catadioptric optical assembly to rotate and focus the scene onto a digital image sensor.  The image sensor is sampled in a non-standard way to allow for multi-view information to be captured in the 360 degree scene and parallax can be adjusted digitally with no modification to the optics.  Alternatively >2 angles can be recorded for each 360 degree frame allowing for some unique opportunities such as: 1)the viewer to not only rotate, but also translate their apparent viewpoint within the VR environment 2)parallax to be adjusted in post 3) scene-dependent non-linear parallax compression or exaggeration.  Custom recording and image processing software assembles omni-directional stereo frames in realtime as pixels are recorded.

Videos and Data:



  • Principal Investigator: Jules S. Jaffe
  • Principal Engineer: Ben Laxton