VMD is the visualization component of MDScope, which is an interactive environment for molecular modelling and dynamics. As part of the project we are experimenting with new modes of human-computer interaction. Most programs use the mouse and menu user interface components, or even a dial box, but these do not fully support the full range of control needed for modelling. We envision a system where a ligand can be picked up and inserted directly into an active site, or where one can point to a molecule and say ``which helix is that?''

This final product is still some time away from completion, but some work has been done to try out various possibilities. The list below indicates methods presently being tried.

  • Support for 6-degree-of-freedom 3-D trackers such as the Polhemus FastTrak.
  • Support for devices with haptic feedback such as the Phantom.
  • Support for network connected VR controllers, using VRPN.
  • Support for a natural language interface. This will soon be coupled to a robust automatic speech recognition system being developed by Dr. Yunxin Zhao of the University of Illinois.
  • A hand-gesture interface is being developed in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Huang and Dr. Rajeev Sharma of the University of Illinois.
  • VMD can communicate steering forces to a remote molecular dynamics program such as NAMD. This allows one to interact with MD simulations as they are progressing.