Biotechnologists in the University of Sheffield are using an advanced set up of projectors, specialist computers and custom software to create an ActiveWall Virtual Reality (VR) system, which allows molecular data to be visualised and interacted with in stereoscopic 3D.

The system has been established by the Krebs Institute Structural Biology Group to aid its work on the atomic structure of biological macromolecules. It is an installed, immersive, interactive 3D visualisation system, which tracks movements within the environment and allows users to navigate through it and pick and manipulate component parts in real-time.

One of the group’s leading researcher Dr Patrick Baker told AV Interactive that the new, projected system is an enormous improvement on the 3D monitor they used to use.

“The ActiveWall gives insights you couldn’t get with the monitor, as it was too zoomed in. Now I can walk right up to the screen to examine an area in detail and the rest of the molecule remains visible,” he explained. “We are using it to help students understand complex molecular structures. Also, this is a great collaborative working tool. We can get a group of about a dozen non-specialists all looking at the same thing, enabling productive discussions about the various structures.”