RBVI's "Visualization Vault"
Our Biotechnology Research Center has created a special room for viewing high-definition images of macromolecular structures in 3-D using stereoscopic glasses. We call it our "Viz Vault." It's ideal for demonstrating the interactive visualization and analysis software that we develop, and for collaborative science projects with other researchers.
Virtual RealityThe Viz Vault has an HTC Vive virtual reality headset for immersive views of molecular structures, 3D light microscopy and electron microscopy using our ChimeraX VR software. The user sees holographic room-size atomic models and microscopy data and can literally walk through the data to ideal vantage points, and analyze the data using tracked hand controllers for clicking on objects in the scene. The headset is powered by an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card.
Stereoscopic ProjectorThe Viz Vault uses a Christie Digital Mirage S+4K high-definition video projector (1400x1050 resolution) capable of 120Hz vertical refresh rate. The fast vertical refresh allows images to be displayed at 120 frames per second. For viewing stereoscopic 3-D images, a slightly different image is projected every other frame. The projector is coupled to an infrared (IR) emitter which floods the room with invisible IR light during one of these frames, but not the other. Users then don a pair of liquid crystal "shutter" glasses such as RealD's CrystalEyes 4S with lens that alternately turn opaque, first for one eye and then for the other eye. The glasses are synchronized to the different images from the projector via the IR light beam, and the result is that the user perceives a three-dimensional image that appears to be floating in space in front of the projector screen. A Boxx Technologies workstation running Linux with AMD FirePro W7000 graphics card drives the system.
Stereoscopic viewing is especially useful for understanding the complex spatial relationships inherient in large molecular structures such as viruses, proteins, and nucleic acids, and the details of these relationships are often critical to understanding how these molecules deliver their biological function.
Individual scientists don't need as elaborate a system as what's described here, but rather can interactively view stereoscopic 3-D molecular models on their desktops using devices such as the NVIDIA 3D Vision.