Researchers at UC Santa Barbara are developing an immense, wholly immersive VR environment that would allow groups of researchers the opportunity to explore their data aurally and visually on a scale never before seen. The AlloSphere is a three story metal sphere housed in an echo-free chamber, large enough that twenty researchers can stand on a bridge and take a walk through an atom, for instance, or a human brain. The project relies on a supercomputer for generating real-time, high-res 3D video and audio streams from a mountain of scientific data, and currently the team is hard at work building the bad boy's computing platform and interactive display. The project leader JoAnn Kuchera-Morin has yet to state whether or not the sense of smell would be incorporated into the finished product, but we sure hope not -- that would be rather distracting, don't you think? Check it out on video after the break.

[Via TED]