by  Oleh Havryliuk

XR for Pharma

  3 min read

New extended reality (XR) technologies are overcoming traditional 2D challenges. This is especially true in the pharmaceutical industry in the complex process of drug development. Combined with modern graphics and human interaction possibilities, XR enables increased efficiency and comfort for specialists and scientists dealing with complex 3D structures.

XR for Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry has become a testing ground for new, 3D visualization platforms that are accelerating innovation. To address legacy challenges in drug development and improve efficiency—while reducing development time—our advanced technology team an extended reality solution.

We’ll share the details with you here.

Overview

Our team of experts focused on combining emerging XR with cross-platform support for Android devices. For our project, we chose Magic Leap One—a mixed reality headset that combines processing power with high quality display and portability. We also used Android-based phones and tablets.

Using 3D graphics, we add a realistic representation of molecular structures as an overlay to the physical environment. This is performed via a typical graphics engine pipeline (Historically, we’ve used Unity for quick prototyping).

Note: As a source for molecular structures, our project works directly with the standard chemical table files (SDF) being loaded from the backend.

Users can view, rotate, walk around, and interact with molecular structures as if engaging with real-world, physical objects. Adjusting the size of a molecule also helps to visualize and study structures for overall analysis or close-up for higher details.

As an interaction functionality, we implemented a set of user scenarios. For scientists and specialists, we added common editing operations—primarily, operations over atoms and connections between them. For interactions, we created the following modes:

  • Cutter: allows user to cut out molecular fragments
  • Move: allows user to choose a new spatial position for a molecule
  • Rotate: allows adjustment around a single point for a better fragment views
  • Zoom in/out: allows the entire virtual scene to be adjusted as desired

These modes address individual user functionality. We also included collaboration and data components.

Collaboration

Group collaboration is an important feature for any team, but typically, aligning multiple views and devices in one position and orientation is a challenge with mixed reality. To address this, we implemented predefined user starting positions via internal spatial anchors.

In multiplayer mode, teams can work together, fully synced on molecular structures on Android or Magic Leap AR devices. Collectively, users can visualize, edit, access additional info, and update structures to the backend for new molecule generation and future processing.

Data generation and access

Additionally, we added the ability to access data on distance between pairs of atoms, range on triplets of atoms, and torsion mode for torsion angles between quadruplets of atoms. This is key because simply interacting with virtual molecules—individually or as a team—has no practical value without this accessible information and the actionable data these interactions provide.

Summary

Our project leverages cutting-edge technology to advance the process of new drug discovery. By combining material design and extended reality technologies, we were able to speed-up the design of new molecules by extending efficiency with the latest approach in human-computer interaction.

For more details, visit our demo page, and read this article.

SoftServe’s R&D team keeps one finger on the pulse of technology to foresee and accelerate where breakthrough opportunities exist for solving specific business needs. Let’s talk about your drug discovery experiences and where you are in your enterprise digital journey.