AUGMENTED REALITY MOLECULES
The science fair Fecitelx is organized by the Miguel Hernández University of Elche every year to encourage science divulgation. In the fair everyone can learn about Science and Technology in a fun and interactive environment.
These events bring science closer to people in a very engaging way, so I was thrilled to collaborate with the University to improve our work from last year: two infographic posters about DNA, which you can see here.
This year's novelty was our set of Augmented Reality molecules, which the user can visualize through a screen. Each molecule is projected onto a specific pattern printed on a card. A camera detects that pattern and projects a 3D model right above it. When the card moves or rotates, so does the model, so the molecule can be viewed from various angles.
It can even be animated, like our DNA model.
All molecular models were downloaded from the Protein Data Bank and then processed in Pymol and Blender before being incorporated in the final software, Unity with Vuforia.
The way it works is both a flat image and a 3D model are imported into Unity and positioned the way we want them to be seen realtive to each other. The only thing that exists in 'real life' is the flat image, which can be printed or on a phone screen.
I had them printed on small cards.
When the webcam detects the image, which is called a 'target image', the sofware projects the 3D model onto the image in the camera view. If we move ort tilt the target image, the model will change position and rotation according to it. The models can also be animated, like the rotating DNA in my video above. The rotation animation was created in Blender and the imported into Unity.
The ball models of DNA and insulin were imported directly from PDB (Protein Data Bank) to Blender and then Unity with Vuforia, but the hemoglobin model was converted to ribbon and sticks in Pymol before going into Blender and finally Unity.
Here you can see some mockups that I created with Blender of the models and their target images.