Leading visualisation software company, Interspectral, is helping to give visitors to Wakehurst a whole new perspective on the hidden world of plants and fungi.
The company’s Inside Explorer Table is a key interactive element in the new ‘Secret Structures: inside the story of plants and fungi’ exhibition at the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Thanks to the table’s intuitive touch-screen technology, users can peel back layer after layer of seeds, trees and flowers to reveal the extraordinary structures and biology within.
Specimens are previously scanned with 3D x-ray and uploaded to the table. Visitors to Secret Structures can explore a variety of plant material including a Brazil nut, a piece of oak, and an orchid flower.
However, the Inside Explorer Table is easily adapted to create educational experiences within a wide variety of contexts. Diverse applications across the world include human anatomy, Egyptian mummies and meteorites.
To create the content for the Secret Structures exhibition, a CT scanner was used in collaboration with London’s Natural History Museum.
The Millennium Seed Bank was established to preserve and study the world’s botanical heritage. In 2009, the team achieved their initial goal of storing seeds from all of the UK’s native plant species, with a few rare exceptions. By 2020, the ambitious plan is to have conserved 25% of the world’s plant species. This is intended to insure against the extinction of plant species in the future.
However, a key role is not just to store plant material but to safeguard species within their native habitats. To this end, the institution carries out critical scientific research to help inform the preservation of the natural environment. It also educates the public about the importance of doing so.
Secret Structures is part of that education process, presenting the hidden world of plants and fungi in an interactive and dynamic way.
Interspectral works in partnership with an international network of leading research organisations and companies within the field of medical imaging, 3D-digitisation and scientific visualisation. The company’s technology is used by clients around the globe including the British Museum, Natural History Museum, The Field Museum and Autodesk.