The ICGEB virtual reality experience

The ICGEB is developing a project to bring students and the broader public closer to science: a journey inside the human body through an immersive virtual reality experience.

Thanks to funding granted by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, between May 2023 and February 2024 the ICGEB is developing a project entitled Viaggio allucinante all’interno della cellula umana (Fantastic Voyage inside the Human Cell) with the aim of developing a software application for virtual reality that allows the user to travel inside the human cell with the sensation of being miniaturised and thus being able to move around freely, accompanied by directions and explanations regarding his/her whereabouts throughout the journey.

The software represents the human cell in all its features, from the nucleus to the Golgi apparatus, the mitochondria to the contents of the cytoplasm, whereby the user has to make a series of choices that will lead him or her to carry out a specific mission in order to complete the journey.

The software is developed through an exchange of information with ICGEB scientists and science communicators in order to make the experience realistic and in line with the latest scientific knowledge on the human cell.

Partners in the project are the high schools I.S.I.S. D’Annunzio – Max Fabiani Gorizia, I.S.I.S “L. da Vinci – G.R. Carli – S. de Sandrinelli” in Trieste, the AREA Science Park, the Laboratory of the Trieste-based Immaginario Scientifico, as well as the Municipality of Trieste. Other stakeholders involved are La Cappella Underground (Trieste Science+Fiction Festival) and SISSAMedialab. The project’s partner schools will involve students in experimenting with the software, so that it can be fine-tuned to create an experience suitable for the best possible understanding of the conformation of the cell and a lasting and memorable effect of the learning experience.

The prototype for the project starts with a Fantastic Journey inside the Human Brain and allows users to explore the parts of the brain related to degenerative diseases, intelligence, judgement and behaviour, offering feedback on the use of VR technology to gain a deeper understanding of the human body. The software also allows non-experts to approach scientific and bioethical issues, which are increasingly present in everyday life.

The Journey inside the Human Brain will be one of the activities offered at the ICGEB stand at Trieste Next, from 22 to 24 September (Trieste Village, Piazza Unità d’Italia) and at SHARPER during La Notte Europea dei Ricercatori, on Friday 29 September (Immaginario Scientifico, Porto Vecchio).