The evolving technology of computer autofabrication makes it possible to produce physical models for complex biological molecules and assemblies. Augmented reality has recently developed as a computer interface technology that enables the mixing of real-world objects and computer-generated graphics. We report an application that demonstrates the use of autofabricated tangible models and augmented reality for research and communication in molecular biology. We have extended our molecular modeling environment, PMV, to support the fabrication of a wide variety of physical molecular models, and have adapted an augmented reality system to allow virtual 3D representations to be overlaid onto the tangible molecular models. Users can easily change the overlaid information, switching between different representations of the molecule, displays of molecular properties, or dynamic information. The physical models provide a powerful, intuitive interface for manipulating the computer models, streamlining the interface between human intent, the physical model, and the computational activity. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Gillet, A., Sanner, M., Stoffler, D., & Olson, A. (2005). Tangible interfaces for structural molecular biology. Structure, 13(3), 483–491. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.str.2005.01.009