Renderings of 3D cells in the body are traditionally displayed using 2D media, such as on a computer screen or paper; however, the advent of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets means it is now possible to visualize and interact with scientific data in a 3D virtual world.
In a perspective article published in Traffic, experts highlight how cutting edge imaging techniques can be used to build a 3D virtual model of a cell, which will allow scientists, students, and members of the public to explore and interact with a 'real' cell.
This approach may improve students' understanding of cellular processes and can enhance learning, research, and public engagement.
"VR transforms the way we look at cells and lets us explore the sub-cellular world," said lead author Dr. Angus Johnston, of Monash University, in Australia.
"I can imagine a VR experience where we not only marvel at the scenery of this new world but we also meet and interact with the inhabitants," said senior author Prof. Robert Parton, of The University of Queensland, in Australia.
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Angus P.R. Johnston et al, Journey to the centre of the cell: Virtual reality immersion into scientific data, Traffic (2017). DOI: 10.1111/tra.12538