OnQ Blog

Using Augmented Reality to see an atom at 100 million times its size

Dec 19, 2014

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

When I was a kid, I remember learning that a cube of sugar contains as many atoms as there are stars in the Universe. I also recall wondering what atoms truly looked like. Today, thanks to the amazing Atom Watch mobile learning application, students in our Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ education project in Japan can use a new augmented reality (AR) science application that allows users to experience an atom at 100 million times its actual size.

The application is inspired and based on a book written by Kiyonobu Itakura who specializes in the history of science and worked for the National Institute for Educational Policy Research in Japan. The beauty of the application is that it incorporates the content of a textbook, while visually setting in motion a three-dimensional periodic table and model of an atom. The AR aspects of the application make it engaging for the students as they learn about weights and sizes of atoms, atomic nature, melting points and the scientific era of discovery.

Atom Watch was developed with assistance from a Wireless Reach grant and uses Qualcomm® Vuforia™* mobile vision technology. It’s available to all of us as part of a free download from the Google Play Store for Android smartphones and tablets (Android OS 4 or later) and Apple’s App Store for iOS smartphones and tablets (iOS 6 or later). Currently, a Japanese version is available, with an English version slated to debut in 2015.

When thinking about the possibilities of applications like Atom Watch, I can’t help but think of what else is possible. AR allows us access to educational materials in new ways—to create experiences that allow all of us to take an interactive journey into the life and world of atoms. I look forward to seeing what else is possible—what else may be illuminated using AR.

*Qualcomm Vuforia is a product of Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc.