May 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm #37333
note: this tool may be useful when teaching, or when investigating a certain part of your body that you are working on and need help ivsualizing/getting in touch with.
THE HUMAN BODY, SEARCHABLE IN 3-D
By Brittany Sauser
May 10, 2011
The first online 3-D interactive search tool of the human body
< http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/> was released today. It allows a
user to view and navigate the human anatomy, male or female, down to the
finest detail — from the muscles and deep muscles to the nerves, arteries,
vessels, and bones. This new tool, called BodyMaps
< http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/>, was developed by Healthline
Networks < http://www.healthline.com/>, a company that provides medical
information to consumers online, and GE Healthyimagination, a Web-based
platform that shares and promotes projects that focus on consumer health,
such as apps or healthy how-to videos.
BodyMaps is a consumer tool developed to educate the user on health
conditions or medical ailments. At the center of the BodyMaps page is a 3-D
image of the body; at left is textual information about the body section
being shown. As a user mouses over the text, the section of the body in the
image is highlighted, and vice versa if a user mouses over the image. At the
bottom is a scrubber that lets the user rotate the body 360 degrees. The
page also features videos, tips on staying healthy, information on symptoms
and conditions, and a definition of the section in view.
The user can select a body region to explore by clicking the text or image,
or by using the search tool. Selecting shoulders generated a crisp,
high-definition 3-D image of the shoulder section, starting at the skin
level, with the option to click through to see the muscles, nerves and
vessels, and bone. Choosing the deltoid muscle, a definition popped up and
the remaining muscles were shaded out. An option to read more provided a
lengthy definition and description of the muscle, including common injuries
and their causes and symptoms.
There is also an anatomy list for each body section the user chooses to view
— the heart even has a cross-section view and a diagram of blood flow while
the knee shows each layer of connective tissues.
BodyMaps is a flash application and can be viewed in any browser; it does
not require the user to download any software or special programs to run.
“This is not a science experiment,” says West Shell, chairman and CEO of
Healthline Networks. “We have built this as a search product for consumer
education,” he says.
Google is working on a similar project called Google Body, which is part of
Google Labs. Unlike BodyMaps, it requires a Web 3-D standard called WebGL
and can only be used in a Chrome browser. Google Body also lacks the level
of detail both in its imagery and information that is available in BodyMaps.
BodyMaps was built using Healthline’s taxonomy, a database of health and
medical information the company spent 10 years building. It relates the
different attributes and facets of a disease or condition to relevant
symptoms and treatments, types of doctors, and even insurance billing codes.
When a user conducts a search, all the relevant information is displayed. To
create the 3-D graphics, Healthline and GE Healthyimagination used over 25
medical illustrators to first make the drawings. They then partnered with
Visible Productions to do the 3-D modeling and applied the existing taxonomy
and search and navigation technology to the models.
Shell says the most viewed information on Healthline.com is visual data such
as images, videos, and animations. “We are enhancing the visual learning
experience by making the 3-D body the platform for navigation,” he says.
The next phase of development for the new 3-D tool is to make it available
on mobile devices and tablets. To do so, Healthline is building the
application in HTML 5, a programming language that is supported by most
devices. Shell expects BodyMaps to be on mobile platforms in the next six
months to a year.
The system, while the first of its kind, still needs some work. Some
queries, like “large intestine,” produce no results, and certain “read more”
sections, such as in the knee region, do not have any additional
information. Also, choosing to “read more” about the muscle “biceps
brachii,” displayed in the shoulder region, makes the user go back to the
The company expects to introduce additional capabilities by June that will
let users explore in 3-D graphics the progression of a disease, how a drug
works in the body, a medical procedure, or even an injury. At least 20
different scenarios will be launched initially, and new ones will continue
to be released. Further planned improvements will let users upload his or
her medical imagery into the system and compare it with the information in
Shell says Healthline is conducting a pilot study with GE, integrating the
imagery from the company’s electronic medical record system with BodyMaps.
This application will not be available to users “for a while,” but should be
implemented widely across GE for testing later this year, he says.
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