The Virtual Anatomy project is exploring how the medium of real-time 3D could be used to create novel resources for anatomy education.
3D medical visualisation software is almost always based on a model of inspection whereby an object can be remotely rotated and magnified as if at arm’s length. Instead, we are looking at the possibility of using immersive environments and interactivity of the type found in computer games as a way of actively engaging students with the complex spatial features and relationships involved in anatomical knowledge.
We have developed some first prototypes using a simple model of the digestive system and the Zanzarah game engine, kindly donated by Funatics Development. These allow users to follow the digestive system from oesophagus to colon by controlling an animated Lara-Croft-like character
Currently, we are investigating the following research questions:
- How can surface data sets that are suitable for real-time environments be extracted from Visible Human and radiological volume data?
- What type of production process that combines data processing, anatomical identification and visual representation is needed to create pedagogically useful 3D models?
- What types of interaction, navigation and games-like engagement might be educationally valuable?
- How does spatial knowledge gained in such virtual environments translate into the real world?
- How do such virtual environments compare with picture atlases, post-mortem videos and other educational resources?
- Team leaders: Gavin Baily, Jonathan Mackenzie
- Team members: Jem Rashbass, Brian Rous, Anna Skilbeck
- Collaborators: David Lomas Radiology Department, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Ian Parkin [Anatomy Department]
- Technologies: VTK [the Visualization Toolkit], Virtools and Zanzarah software
- Funding: CARET
- Start: September 2001
- Paper accepted for presentation on 16–18 July, 2003, at IV03, the 7th International Conference on Information Visualisation