Exploring Human Anatomy With Google’s Body Browser

Screen shot 2010-12-17 at 11.22.16 AM

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

You every now and again, someone comes up to me and says, “DJ, I want to know what makes you tick. Well, thanks to a new digital tool from Google, now I can show you all my inner workings¢‚Ǩ¬¶

Yesterday, Google Labs launched the Body Browser, an interactive 3D model of the human body like a Google Earth for human anatomy, if you will. The Body Browser uses The Khronos Groups WebGL programming interface¢‚Ǩ¬¶which basically means that you need to download Google Chrome to explore the Body Browser if you dont already have it.

After downloading chrome, I went to bodybrowser.googlelabs.com to start playing. Heres what I got:


A woman in plain athletic clothes, lets call her “Donna. Since its obvious that Donna works out, I figure I want to see exactly how much muscle Donna has on her. A slider on the left-hand side of the screen lets users peel away layers like skin and muscle from the rendering, which is exactly what I did. Here are Donnas muscles:


And I bet Donnas pretty smart, too, so to verify, I zoomed in on her brains. Its hard to know exactly what Im looking at, so I turned the labels on using the button at the bottom of the control panel. Ah, thats it: the caudate nucleus, which is responsible for memory and learning.


While the nerves are fairly transparent for now, horizontal sliders fade them back in, as well as the bones, veins, muscle, skin, etc. so that you can observe everything in relation to each other.


In the upper right-hand corner of the screen is a search bar (why, how very Google of you, Google) that lets users locate and hone in on specific organs. Clicking and dragging your cursor spins the model around for a 360-degree view. Cool.


Okay, that was fun. Now what?

Its obvious that Googles Body Browser has huge implications for the healthcare industry. In terms of patient literacy, it makes learning about medical procedures and drug effects both easy and fun. Animations can demonstrate to both doctors and patients how a drug travels through the body and which parts it affects. The Body Browser is also a great tool for physician training, guiding them through complex maneuvers. Can you think of any other applications in the healthcare/Pharma industry for the Body Browser?

Right now, the big debate is whether or not Google should have created the Body Browser in Flash. Oh, and TSA jokes 🙂



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2 Responses to Exploring Human Anatomy With Google’s Body Browser

  1. Pingback: The latest useful news on Google and Bing (Body Browser, Social Search, Google Refine) « SLA PHT Division Blog