WiiChem Project

Create, view and interact with molecules

SummaryOur project is to integrate 3D capabilities of the Wii Remote device (invented by Nintendo) in the free modelling software, Avogadro, in order to develop a completely new and immersive way to create and manipulate molecular models. This tool will be a very valuable addition to students who have so much trouble understanding in 3D. It is also a more "modern" and rewarding way to teach and look.

At college, high school and university, the use of chemical visualisation software makes it easy to show the structures of molecules being studied. It adds a visual complement to the use of plastic molecular models that use the tactile intelligence of the hand, often neglected, but which is found in our project.

Image : Wiimote and Nunchuck

This site describes the nature and purpose of the WiiChem project, a project in the area of molecular modeling. Molecular modeling encapsulates all of the theoretical methods and computational techniques used to study and simulate the behavior of molecules. One of its features is the almost exclusive use of the computer, or "computer-aided chemistry".

One of the first steps in molecular modeling is to construct the chemical structure under study, that is to say, to position the atoms relative to each other (provide coordinates for the atoms). The keyboard/mouse combination is not the most suitable way to direct this construction. Why? Because the mouse is a 2D device (it moves on a flat plain) and therefore can not directly position an atom in terms of depth (lifting the mouse upwards does not work!). Current software circumvents the problem by requiring entry of a number to indicate the depth or by combining several mouse movements to place the atom in terms of depth.

Although the 3D-stereoscopic representation of virtual objects has benefited from recent advances (3D films, nVidia’s 3D Vision technology, ...), 3D manipulation by the direct action of the user is still very limited because there is no 3D “generic” device widely-available.

The free tool proposed here links the gestures of the user to the 3D displacement of the object identified by its binding. In addition, the simulation is dynamic and "felt": the molecules are created and manipulated in real time with a "sensory feedback", facilitating and thereby increasing the acquisition of knowledge.

Optionally, our application can be coupled to a 3D-stereoscopic (relief image) for even greater immersion, and thus reinforce the learning. The technology used are anaglyph glasses with red/cyan filters. The use of active 3D glasses is planned for later.

In conclusionThe advantage of our approach lies in a next-generation 3D device that is inexpensive, widely-available, and popular with young people. The simplicity, attractiveness and low cost of our device (software + Wiimote) allow it to be deployed just as widely in high schools as in universities.

Good navigation.

Logo Région Champagne-Ardenne Logo WiiChem Logo URCA
WiiChem project Université de
Reims Champagne-Ardenne