Upright Microscope

An Inside Look In Search of Higher Performance

Nikon's ECLIPSE Si biological microscope supports current and prospective professionals such as pathologists, medical examiners and laboratory technicians working at medical and research institutions with its comfortable operability that helps them focus on testing. This product was developed to maximize performance at workplaces that support the health of the community. We interviewed the personnel responsible for planning and designing this microscope about their efforts to support users.

It Starts with Understanding Users

Saigo: One of the roles of pathologists, medical examiners and laboratory technicians, who are the main users of this type of microscope, is to identify the causes of diseases based on samples that include the patient's body tissues and body fluids, or to conduct the tests required to do so. Through this work, they support the diagnoses and treatments that doctors give to their patients. We started the product planning for this microscope with an understanding of that system. We conducted field surveys, as well as interviews and questionnaires by phone and email, working with multiple teams. As a result, we found that there was more than the expected number of people who experienced physical strain in their work. We decided to develop a microscope that supports them in focusing on testing by providing more comfort.

Takuro Saigo
(ECLIPSE Si Product Planning)
1st Production Planning Section
Marketing Department
Marketing Sector
Healthcare Business Unit

Kobayashi: As the designer of the product, I also visited some workplaces. The first thing that impressed me was the sheer number of tests that each person handles every day. Some people have to test several hundred samples, repeating the same procedure in the same posture for a long period of time. As a result, the design elements that I considered critical include tubes that allows continuous observation while keeping a natural sitting posture, a low and compact stage that allows for smooth hand movements during tests, controls that are comfortable to use by hand, and a compact and lightweight structure with sufficient rigidity.

Yuki Kobayashi
(ECLIPSE Si Design)
Associate Researcher
ID Group
Design Center

Sato: I shared Kobayashi's design concept, based on the feedback of users, with Hosono. I designed the arm and the stage units. I addressed such challenges as simultaneously ensuring rigidity and lightness, and decreasing the stage height by about 50mm compared to conventional models, all while accommodating critical optical components.

Hosono: I mainly designed the nosepiece, to which the objectives are attached, and the eyepiece tube. As for the tube, it is designed to prevent fatigue while looking through the eyepiece for long periods. The quintuple nosepiece has a status detection function and displays the type and magnification of the objective being used on the LCD screen.

Sato: Kobayashi, Hosono, and I repeatedly discussed many other elements and incorporated the results of our discussions into the design. The purpose of all this is to help the user to comfortably focus on testing and achieve higher performance.

Tatsuya Sato
(ECLIPSE Si Design)
1st Designing Section
1st Development Department
Optical Engineering Division
Satsuki Hosono
(ECLIPSE Si Design)
1st Designing Section
1st Development Department
Optical Engineering Division

Taking Care of Users, Down to the Finest Details

Microscope observation in a more natural posture based on ergonomics

Saigo: Based on the user surveys, we found that many people experienced eye and shoulder strain. One of the possible causes is that they look into the eyepiece in the same posture for long periods. We therefore thought that an ergonomic design that enables microscopic observation in a natural posture is essential. At the same time, we included a light intensity management function for automatically adjusting light intensity to reduce eye strain. In actual workplaces, a PC and samples are also placed on the desk together with the microscope. We assumed that reducing the footprint of the microscope would allow users to utilize their limited space more effectively.

Kobayashi: When designing the controls, I was meticulous about their sizes, shapes, and positions in terms of making them comfortable for users’ hands. For example, the shape of the nosepiece, to which the objectives are attached, makes rotation easier. When designing the shape and position of the X-Y axis knobs for adjusting the stage position, I paid attention to ensuring that they could be easily identified and operated when touched. In addition, the shape of the specimen holder knobs on the stage were designed so that the user can operate them easily with their thumbs. The purpose of all these design elements is to allow the user to perform various operations without taking their eyes away from the eyepiece.

Design plans and mock-ups of the knurled grip-ring

Mock-ups of the microscope body

Configuration with the Digital Sight 1000 microscope camera

Sato: One thing that I gave special consideration to in the design was to minimize the number of protrusions and depressions on the stage which the exception of the operating knob on the specimen holder, and to hide even the screws. This makes changing the sample smoother and wiping the stage clean easier when it is stained. I also kept safety in mind, making the corners of the stage round to prevent them catching the user’s sleeves, and covering the gears driving the stage to prevent the user touching them with their fingers.

Hosono: Because the user can see the stage and LCD screen just by shifting their view slightly from the eyepiece, they can check the sample or settings with a minimum of movement. The Digital Sight 1000* microscope camera can be mounted on the tube without the need for tools. When the user rotates the nosepiece to switch objectives, the light intensity is changed to the optimal value recorded, saving them the effort of adjustment. The combination of all these design elements significantly contributes to the support of the user.

*Research use only

Creating a New Standard of Biological Microscopes

Kobayashi: We worked on the development of this microscope with a desire to reduce fatigue and stress in tension-filled workplaces dealing with life-and-death situations. Personally, I think that the design of the form and control system of a product is itself a type of communication with the user. I hope that users will use it as a dependable partner.

Sato: We shared our feelings about users among all the members of the development team. Our objective was to create a new standard for biological microscopes. I think we have developed a satisfactory product. I would be very happy if people continue to use it for a long time.

Hosono: When I tried the finished product, I found it very easy to use. I would therefore like as many people as possible to try this product out. I believe they will appreciate its benefits.

Saigo: We developed the product on the premise that it is used for long periods every day in laboratories. This product is full of innovations for just such a purpose. If our product makes testing and diagnosis more efficient, we may be able to save more lives. I hope this product will contribute to the health and safety of everyone.

Note: The institutions and job titles listed with each researcher reflect their affiliation at the time of the interview.