From Virtual Reality to Immersive Analytics in Bioinformatics

J Integr Bioinform. 2018 Jul 9;15(2):20180043. doi: 10.1515/jib-2018-0043.


Bioinformatics-related research produces huge heterogeneous amounts of data. This wealth of information includes data describing metabolic mechanisms and pathways, proteomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics. Often, the visualization and exploration of related structural - usually molecular - data plays an important role in the aforementioned contexts. For decades, virtual reality (VR)-related technologies were developed and applied to Bioinformatics problems. Often, these approaches provide "just" visual support of the analysis, e.g. in the case of exploring and interacting with a protein on a 3D monitor and compatible interaction hardware. Moreover, in the past these approaches were limited to cost-intensive professional visualization facilities. The advent of new affordable, and often mobile technologies, provides high potential for using similar approaches on a regular basis for daily research. Visual Analytics is successfully being used for several years to analyze complex and heterogeneous datasets. Immersive Analytics combines these approaches now with new immersive and interactive technologies. This publication provides a short overview of related technologies, their history and Bioinformatics-related approaches. Six new applications on the path from VR to Immersive Analytics are being introduced and discussed.

Keywords: Cell Modeling and Visualization; Computational Biology; Data Exploration; Immersive Analytics; Microscopic Imaging; Molecular Dynamics; Semantics; Virtual Reality.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Graphics*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Software*
  • User-Computer Interface*
  • Virtual Reality*


  • Proteins