Microscopic VR tech lets you explore atomic-sized virtual worlds
A new innovation in virtual reality lets you roam around and explore even the tiniest details of physical objects. Nano-imaging technology company Nanotronics Imaging has developed a new kind of visualization technology that pushes the envelope of virtual reality applications to the molecular level. Its virtual reality imaging system, called nVisible, enables the exploration of a “virtual landscape” in the microscopic level by rendering a three-dimensional imagery – all happening within a supported virtual reality headset.
This piece of technology is based on the 3D-printed nSpec microscope system, which is basically a system that draws renders of virtual worlds from a simple piece of microscopic slide. By taking light from multiple angles through the use of a coordinate system, the microscope system is able to draw a virtual map that features points to indicate the relative position of the virtual “atmosphere”. A notable example of the virtual world that can be experienced in the nVisible system is the molecular contours of a rubber band, representing a terrain full of sloping mountains and cliffs that appear to resemble the real thing. Sub-molecular geometry has never become so real with the technology – in fact, the rubber band renders which depict “mountains” are well defined, most specially the gentle slopes created by the virtual terrain.
Nanotronics Imaging positions their VR technology as beneficial for many industries that require critical interpretation of materials in the molecular level. The nVisible VR system could be an invaluable tool for scientists and engineers to fully explore material surfaces with great precision and high level of similarity to the physical object. The tech company’s CEO, Matthew Putman, states in their company’s press release statement: “To create the future, you have to be able to see it.” nVisible does exactly that by giving great imagery of sub-atomic surfaces. The company also sees the future of their VR technology to be used in the creation and further refinement of tiny objects, such as carbon nanotubes.
Currently the technology is very expensive, thanks partly to the high cost of the nSpec microscopes, which range from US $40,000 up to US $70,000. Nonetheless, Nanotronics is finding ways to make the technology as accessible and as affordable as possible to permeate into the mainstream consumer market. They are looking into the possibility of making their technology competitively priced at a reasonable US $100 in the near future.
The nVisible VR system is fully compatible with the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard. The system was formally unveiled at the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards held last April 24 in New York City.