Geek out like a med student with Google Body Browser
Monday 20 December 2010
Doctors and med students may soon have a valuable tool to help them explore the human body and explain medical conditions and surgeries to patients. On December 16, Google soft-launched a new "Body Browser" program, which allows users to examine the human body in fully layered, three-dimensional detail.
Designed as an educational tool, Google Body Browser was launched as a beta version in a WebGL-enabled program, so before you can play doctor you'll need to use a browser that supports the app. WebGL is a cross-platform, low-level 3D API that hasn't hit mainstream browsers just yet, but the beta version of Google Chrome supports it.
The program features an image of a woman standing face-forward in minimal workout gear. By using your cursor, you can peel back layers of the body (not the clothing) to see detailed views of human anatomy, such as muscular structure, organs, arteries, veins, and eventually just the nerves.
Want to learn more about what you're seeing? Just click the "Labels" option, and the program transforms into a virtual biology book, providing detailed notes on every part of the body you are viewing.
For med students, Google Body Browser could likely be an alternative to the static sketches of Gray's Anatomy or pricey (albeit much more dynamic) 3D anatomy software programs such as Primal Pictures or Visible Body, which can cost as much as several hundred euros for just one part of the body. Meanwhile, doctors say it might develop into another tool to add to a coterie of technology aids, including Skype, which allows doctors, nurses, and social workers to video conference with patients and their family members. In an interview with technology news website TechNewsWorld, US-based Dr. Eric Rackow, who specializes in senior care, adds: "Our online educational tools include a webinar series on patient care, and an iPhone/iPad application, Managing Complex Chronic Conditions, which helps assess people's risk for hospitalization."
For gender equality, Google says it plans to add a male model to the Body Browser soon.
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