Impressions of Nanome Curie

Ekeka Abazie uses Nanome to see molecules in a Virtual Reality environment. Here, he discusses his impressions of using Nanome Curie.

Right off the bat, I noticed a reduction in quality from Nanome when using the Oculus S tethered headset and Nanome Curie using the Oculus Quest headset. The best way I can compare it is akin to that of the original version and the lite version where you would find on a lower-tier console, which leads me to question whether it is the platform that is partially to blame.

The graphics quality on Nanome Curie was very pixelated and blocky, making analysis very difficult. Further, there were slow reaction times that added vibrations, making the careful analysis I was able to perform using Nanome on Oculus S challenging. There were also significant delays, and at times, the molecule would be moved very far into the screen which necessitated moving it to myself like I was fishing.

I wasn’t even able to analyze the same molecules as I was with the Oculus S, because many wouldn’t even load properly. For example, when I tried to load graphene from the “Featured” menu, a text box would appear with a green checkmark indicating that the molecule had loaded, and then I would get an error message. For others, that I searched using the database, I would often just start with the error message.

I also noticed that I couldn’t just focus on one molecule and enlarge or work with it. Any changes in size that I made to one molecule would be carried to the other molecule, which, yes, keeps everything to scale, but I imagined that selecting a molecule would allow me to make specific edits to that molecule rather than the entire workspace. This was particularly annoying when I had a 2HBS, a rather large molecule that takes up a lot of space, within the same workspace as a small hexacarbonyl ring. I would have to move 2HBS quite far if I wanted to enlarge the hexacarbonyl and focus on it.

I spoke with Professor O’Leary in the Chemistry Department at Pomona College (I originally came to inquire about any past assignments I could use to test the VR software) about the feasibility of VR for molecule visualization compared to already dominant software in the market like SPARTAN, Chemdraw, or GAUSSIAN. He told me that he didn’t see a need for VR in the market because the present software seemed much more suited for the task and easier to work with. However, he said that he could see how VR would aid in the comprehension of molecule manipulation and in education. He said this would especially be the case if you could input specific files for molecules using a variety of different file extensions. This is something I mentioned in my review of Nanome using Oculus S tethered, and I easily understood how I could upload files for molecules of interest and use it to work with them on that platform. However, on Nanome Curie using the non-tethered Oculus Quest headset, I don’t see how this same file upload process would work.

By Ekeka Abazie

Virtual Reality Tools at HPC Support Team’s Weekly Meeting

During HPC’s weekly Friday meeting, Director of HPC Asya Shklyar transformed the entire meeting room into an interactive project space for HPC Support members. “Let’s move the chairs to make room,” Asya said, “that way we can use the board to document all the programs associated with different fields of study in VR.” The students began moving chairs and collaboratively working together to get the space to function. Soon, the meeting room became its own VR work space.

Configuring Alienware laptops
Students interacting with Oculus Go, a wireless VR headset.


Students were able to actively learn how to connect all the equipment properly and how to begin engaging with every individual program. Asya then requested the students to organize the programs by their specific fields of study, ranging from Biology to Economics to Linguistics.  The idea was to curate various VR experiences  in order to prepare for demonstration to faculty and students. Throughout the process, students learned how to troubleshoot individual issues with the equipment while also engaging with the programs that are associated with various fields of study.

Engaging with the VR experience.


Through the interaction, students had their questions answered about how to link the VR equipment properly and how to run the programs. In the end, it was a highly engaging Friday that saw the participation of multiple students and the engagement from those who’ve never used VR before (like me).


Ekeke setting up HTC Vive.
Asya overseeing the process.