Posted in biology, communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays, medical imaging, Nanotechnology

Week of TED: AlloSphere

Today’s featured TED talker: Joann Kuchera-Morin, professor of media arts and technology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Kuchera-Morin gave her TED talk about the AlloSphere, “a three-story, 62,000-square-foot, digital microscope,” housed inside the California NanoSystems Institute building at UCSB. This thing is HUGE! Just looking at the pictures of the outside of the building is mind-blowing.
Well, you might ask, that’s great, but what does the microscope housed in the giant facility do? The microscope is “connected to a super computer that allows researchers to step inside and immerse themselves in their data with surround-view.” It’s the first working version of Star Trek’s holodeck, but for doctors! Or maybe more along the lines of Professor X’s Cerebro. Surgeons can walk around inside a patient’s brain, or rather fly over it like it’s a landscape. The video on the Allosphere home site gives a pretty good (but short) demo of exactly what’s going on.

“Visualizing, hearing and exploring complex multi-dimensional data provides insight that is essential for progress in a number of critical areas of science and engineering, where the amount and complexity of the data overwhelm traditional computing environments,” as is written on their website. They argue that the AlloSphere is an answer to that need.

It doesn’t look like TED has posted Kuchera-Morin’s talk yet. If you find it before I do, please leave the link for me in the comments. Thanks!



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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