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The Visible Body Brings Interactive Anatomy to the Web


The Visible Body - Banner

Those who were in high school and college a few years back will likely remember those transparent plastic scale models of the human body that used to live in science and anatomy classrooms. They were called the "Visible Man" and "Visible Woman," designed to help students learn how the body works. Now, thanks to The Visible Body, those models are online and completely free to use.

The Visible Body - Muscular System

The Visible Body was designed for students and medical professionals looking for another tool to add to their information arsenal. The tool is remarkably complete, and after downloading the 3D plug-in and loading the app, you get a completely interactive, 3D view of the human body. You start with the skeletal system, and you can add other systems on top of it, including the circulatory system, the endocrine system, the muscular system, and more. You can click on each to show or hide it, rotate your view of the body in 360-degrees, and zoom in and out.

As you click to add different systems, you can expand the category to pinpoint particular organs or areas of interest. For example, you can open up the nervous system category to drill down into the central or peripheral nervous systems. Inside each of those categories are specific parts of the nervous system that you can add to the 3D model without having your view cluttered by other organs and parts.

You can also search for a specific body part or organ using the search function in the sidebar. If your search term is recognized (I had spotty results with this), the part you're looking for is added to the model and you're zoomed directly in on it. Even when zoomed in, the body's parts and functions are shown in incredible detail.

The Visible Body - Circulatory System

The Visible Body has some relatively hefty system requirements, so make sure your system is up to the task before even trying to sign up. First of all, the Web app only supports Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, and only works in Internet Explorer. No Mac or Firefox users need apply. That's a huge drawback, but it seems to be a limitation of the Anark 3D interactive plug-in required for the tool to work. The 3D plug-in is very resource intensive, so I wouldn't try doing much else while using Visible Body.

Complaints aside, The Visible Body is incredibly useful, and a lot of fun to browse. The service is currently in beta, and the developers plan to add more features and details in the future. I hope they open up the service to Macs and other browsers, but in the meantime, The Visible Body is a good reason to fire up Internet Explorer.

The Visible Body Brings Interactive Anatomy to the Web - AppScout - |2008-03-09|

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