Where might the Vision Pro make a big impact?

2023-09-13 17:16:00 +0700 by Mark Smith

I previously wrote about the real opportunity for the Vision Pro. From that piece:

Perhaps the opportunity with the Vision Pro isn't with consumer apps, but with industrial apps. Sectors like construction, interior design, synthetic biology, materials science, big pharma, supply chain management and many others, have money to spend and a need to process large amounts of data in new ways. I see the Vision Pro less as a way to watch movies and more like a welding mask, a speciality device that you use in specific parts of your workflow to accomplish previously impossible data analysis and manipulation tasks.

I had been thinking something along these lines from the moment I read the descriptions of the device. I spent my undergrad amidst science and engineering departments. I myself studied Materials Science but when you are at a science and engineering university you are immersed in the culture of all the various disciplines, from biology to aerospace, from civil to mechnical engineering to chemistry and all the rest. So I have a pretty intuitive understanding how such a device could make a big impact in these areas.

The Bankless Nation podcast had a really fascinating episode talking to among others Drew Endy, the father of modern synthetic biology. I've transcribed some of what he was saying here, as it really crystalises why the Vision Pro could make a huge difference in science. He is asked What is synthetic biology? to which he replies:

I think of it as wetware. There’s hardware, there’s software, there’s wetware. A cell is a cell, let’s just let a cell be a cell (no metaphors required).

Let’s say I took a bacterium that’s microscopic, 1 millionth of a meter long, a micron. And I’m just going to have a magic wand and make it 100 million times bigger. So now it’s 100 meters long, and I’m not adding more atoms, I’m just magically making everything bigger. So we can see it, it’s like the size of a building.

Now we can say, what does it look like? Let’s say I have a protein, a green fluorescent protein that makes a green light. That protein is the size of a basketball. And the ribosome, which is a collection of molecules that makes proteins, is 2 meters tall. And then the genome, the DNA, it’s going back and forth in this building 1600 times.

It’s a really thin thread and so it’s cross sectional area is like 4 square meters. And there are many other molecules in this building, all about basketball size, and they fill 30% of the space of the building. We call that volume fraction, it’s 30% packed with molecules.

Now we are just building this instantaneous mental image of what a cell is, and of course it’s alive. And what that means is that it’s self mixing. Brownian energy is causing all the molecules to jostle around through collisions with water, so that soccer ball, that green fluorescent protein, is moving…this is where it gets crazy…

It’s moving with an average velocity of 500 meters per second. It’s just instantaneous velocity is faster probably. What that means is that the molecular - molecular collision time is a nanosecond.

So I’ve got this self mixing milieu that’s 30% solid, 70% water, with a gigahertz collision rate, and what it’s doing is being encoded by the genome, instantiated as a physical mixture, it’s receiving energy from the environment.

Within the period of 10-20 minutes it could make a physical copy of itself. That’s wetware.

Doesn't that sound awesome? Doesn't it sound like the sort of thing that could be revolutionised by the Vision Pro?

And guess what, the whole of science and engineering disciplines are full of these types of visualisation problems.

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