By Mark Lowey
Medical students and the rest of the world can now touch, move and even ‘dissect’ the human body on an Apple iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, thanks to University of Calgary scientists.
The university’s computer scientists and medical experts have developed interactive computer software, an “app,” that enables users to learn about anatomy by manipulating onscreen a virtual 3D human with more than 3,000 searchable body parts.
“This is the first app for mobile devices that does ‘dissection.’ You can pick a plane and ‘cut’ the body part you’ve selected in a particular way, rotate it and zoom in for more detail,” says Dr. Christian Jacob, professor of computer science in the Faculty of Science and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Faculty of Medicine.
“This touch interface makes a big difference in navigating through the anatomy in 3D and learning where different parts are in relation to each other,” Jacob says.
The “Zygote 3D Anatomy Atlas & Dissection Lab,” developed by The LINDSAY Project Corp. in collaboration with Zygote Media Group Inc., was released earlier this month on Apple’s online iTunes store and sells for $28.99.
University of Calgary students and faculty members qualify to get the app for free! Click here for more information.
Since the technology was created by a spinoff company from the University of Calgary’s LINDSAY Virtual Human Project, the app will be made available free to all university students and faculty, including in Medicine, Kinesiology and Nursing.
“We designed and built this app mainly for medical students and their instructors, to revolutionize how learning is done in the classroom,” says Jacob, director of the LINDSAY Virtual Human Project. “We’ll use a web-enabled version of this app to help medical schools in developing countries teach anatomy.”
The university’s LINDSAY project provides a collection of biological models and computational tools for research and learning about anatomy and physiology. The project is named after Dr. Lindsay Kimmett, a bright, promising student in undergraduate medical education who died in a car crash.
To create the new commercial app, Jacob and Dr. Bruce Wright, associate dean of undergraduate medical education, formed a spinoff company, The LINDSAY Project Corp.
The LINDSAY project team’s Scott Novakowski – called “Magic Scott” for his programming wizardry – took Zygote Media’s library of 3D computer body parts and wrote all the programming behind the intuitive interface on Apple’s mobile devices.
Mike Paget, LINDSAY project manager, and Novakowski worked with artists at Zygote Media to ensure that all the detailed 3D body parts were anatomically perfect when ‘dissected’ and viewed from every possible angle.
Dr. Heather Jamniczky, assistant professor of cell biology and anatomy in the Faculty of Medicine, has acted as ‘test pilot’ in using various LINDSAY applications to teach students.
Apple receives 30 per cent from every app sold, and the remaining revenue is split 50-50 between Zygote Media and The LINDSAY Project Corp., which reinvests the money into the LINDSAY Virtual Human Project.