Designing the Carl Zeiss Microscopy Experience

ZEN (ZEISS Efficient Navigation) makes the fantastic possibilities offered by the latest microscope technology easily accessible to customers in biomedicine and materials science. The spectrum of the application ranges from microscope control, image acquisition and optimization through to analysis and reporting. Together with Carl Zeiss Microscopy we worked on the comprehensive redesign of the software.

This presented a considerable challenge, given that the software solutions for light and confocal microscopy, which had previously been separate, are brought together in ZEN 2011 – a process that took time and demanded staying power. How could we develop the different workflows? How could we handle the various user profiles? How could we make the considerable complexity in the user interface manageable? These were the questions faced by the Carl Zeiss team and Intuity 2004.

Once again it became apparent how important it is to get a real feel for the needs of users and that such a task cannot be achieved using simple templates. The project reached a successful conclusion because the team of developers took a long-term approach and worked together, step by step, on honing each individual component into its optimum form.

Today – even after many years of collaboration with Carl Zeiss – we continue to be astounded time and again by the unbelievable possibilities of the application.  There is virtually nothing that cannot be done.

At the heart of ZEN 2011 is an expandable framework that can grow with the available hardware and software components. You can switch the interface from light to dark to optimize it for use in light-filled or darkened laboratory environments. The new workflow-based structure and context-sensitive menus ensure that the application is clearly laid out, without making any concessions in terms of functionality. When it comes to complex matters we believe in the power of visualization: graphical control elements clearly show connections and help the user to perform experiments safely and without problems – what’s more, they are simply a pleasure to use.

As part of an exciting process, over 50 product managers and developers are working at different locations on a common goal. We are accompanying Carl Zeiss Microscopy from the conception stage and interface design through to implementation and market launch. Over the course of the project a comprehensive online style guide has been developed, making concepts, designs and prototypes just as accessible as detailed specifications for software development. This means that all parties involved can maintain an overview at all times of the current status and ongoing discussions.

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