Jewels of the Sea

Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften Würzburg-SchweinfurtGermany


Production / Student


Maximilian Seeger


Every fourth breath we take is sponsored by diatoms since these photosynthetic unicellular organisms produce about one fourth of the worlds oxygen. Although these microscopic organisms are so incredibly important for our carbon cycle, few people apart from biologists and microscopists are familiar with them. The reason for their general unfamiliarity is probably their size. Diatoms are between 1 and 500 micrometres in size and only become visible under the microscope. In the past, however, not only biologists but also artists have become enthusiastic about the diverse geometric forms of the glassy unicellular organisms. This work shows an approach to generatively create digital diatom models based on real diatoms that are identified live under a light microscope using deep-learning based image detection. The digital diatoms are generated in realtime by a custom written algorithm. The created installation makes it possible to place any water sample under a microscope and explore it, while diatoms get automatically detected by the AI-based image recognition. Hand-tracking makes it also possible to play around with the digitally computed diatom models and view them from all angles.


The Interaction Awards are an initiative of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), a global community of more than 120,000 individuals worldwide dedicated to the professional practice of Interaction Design. Find out how to join your local group and get involved at

© 2012 - 2023 Interaction Design Association