Confocal microscopes and other related tools allow researchers to take optical sections through a sample to create a three-dimensional picture of that object. But most things worth looking at under a microscope are not static; they move and change shape over time. Coventry, England-based Improvision now offers a software product that allows researchers to study the structure of complex objects over time—that is, in 4D.

Company literature describes Volocity as "the first true color 4D rendering system designed for biomedical imaging." Andrew Waterfall, Volocity president, expands on that definition, explaining that the program enables the visualization, publication, and measurement of time-resolved, multi-channel 3D volumes from confocal or optical microscopes. For example, scientists have used Volocity to study the mechanism of how cells divide. "It's a three-dimensional structure that's changing over time, and by acquiring the 3D volume at different time points we can see both the structure of a...

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