For many, insects and other minute organisms are regarded with disgust, disinterest, and labeled as “pests.” Often they are either in the way or out of sight. There is, however, more than meets the eye. These organisms not only play a monumental role in the world’s ecosystems—a truth that has become ever more apparent in the face of global climate change—but they also have astounding physiological complexities that humans can’t quite see without the aid of a microscope. The scanning electron microscope (SEM) offers a highly detailed view, the ability to see specimens from all angles, and a glimpse into the intricacies of creatures that walk amongst us every day. Unfortunately, this technology is expensive to use and is rarely experienced by the public.
Microscopia is an attempt to emulate the eye-opening experience of seeing organisms through an SEM and take it one step further—allowing users to seemingly shrink down to their size. By capturing SEM images of specimens in various rotational series and processing them through photogrammetry software, 3D models are generated. The models are displayed in two contexts, both built with Unity game engine. The first is a virtual reality experience that incorporates narration, sound, and a simulated shrinking of the user. The second is an augmented reality mobile companion app that allows users to place the models in their world and effectively bring the experience home with them.
Donnelly, Ian, "Microscopia: A Virtual Museum of Organisms Created with SEM Photogrammetry" (2019). Honors College. 476.