Genetics Department, Universidad Miguel Hernandez
The science fair Fecitelx is organized yearly by the Miguel Hernández University of Elche to bring science closer to the public. Here, everyone can learn and experiment in a fun and interactive environment. After our previous year's success with our DNA infographics, we wanted to add something more innovative and interactive. DNA encodes proteins, and we wanted to help people visualize what both DNA and proteins look like in some of their most common representations.
These complex biological structures are better understood in 3D space, so we decided to use Augmented Reality (AR) to achieve this. As you can see in the video, when someone shows one of the printed cards to the camera, a 3D image is projected onto it, and the user can move it to view the model from different angles. It was great to see the enthusiasm of people when every time they saw the molecules appear on the screen! It added an extra layer of knowledge to our 2D representations of DNA and proteins on the posters.
All molecular models were downloaded from the Protein Data Bank and then processed in Pymol and Blender before being incorporated into Unity with Vuforia.
For each molecule I created a simple, hight contrast image, that could be either printed on a card or displayed on a phone screen. Both this flat image and a 3D model of the molecule are imported into Unity and positioned the way we want them to be seen relative to each other. The only thing that exists in 'real-life' is the card or phone displaying the flat image.
When the webcam detects the image, the sofware projects the 3D model onto the image on the screen. If we move ort tilt the flat image, called a "target image", the 3D model will change position and rotation according to it. The models can also be animated, like the rotating DNA in the video above. The rotation animation was created in Blender and then imported into Unity.
These are some mockups that I created with Blender of the models with their target images.
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