Inside the Virtual Brain in Life-Size

The AlloSphere is a three-story tall spherical chamber lined on the inside with 360-degree display screens–kind of like an IMAX theater, except panoramic. You view the sphere’s content by standing on a breezeway that bisects the theater, from which you can explore any number of scenarios in breathtaking fully-immersive virtual reality, all based on real-world data.

“Think of the AlloSphere as a large, dynamically varying digital microscope,” says JoAnn Kuchera-Morin in this recent TED video. What does that mean, exactly? It means that the UC Santa Barbara-developed sphere can hold 20 researchers inside it, completely immersing them in a given nano-scale environment.

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“Imagine if a team of surgeons could fly into the brain as though it was a world, and see tissues as landscapes and hear blood density levels as music,” says Kuchera-Morin, who is the inventor of the sphere and an orchestrally-trained musician.

The AlloSphere is powered by one of the largest dynamically-varying supercomputers in the world, and is used to model entire microscopic worlds both visually and sonically, based on real data taken from fMRIs from the brain. Other nano-scale data can be imaged as well, suggesting a range of possibilities from the biological to the atomic to the artistic.

Check out the video below:

Related: MIT’s Sixth Sense Machine Makes Reality BetterCD