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U researchers develop iPhone applications

By Deborah Rafferty

U researchers developed iPhone applications to view the human body in a new way8212;one of them even allows users to dissect the dead.

See dead people

Two applications were developed in the U department of biology. Mark Nielsen, a professor-lecturer in biology who has written anatomy textbooks and software, saw the capabilities the iPhone possessed and decided to design an application. AnatomyLab allows the user to dissect a cadaver, an experience not available to most anatomy students. Shawn Miller, a U graduate student in anthropology, dissected a human cadaver layer by layer, while Nielsen photographed everything to supply images for the application.

Users can move through the different layers and select different body parts to learn more about them. The 3-D images of the different body parts can be rotated and zoomed in on for a more complete view. Paired with the images, text describes the functions and origins of the various body parts, Nielsen said.

Users can also add their own notes in the application for additional study information.

See dead people lite

My Body, another application designed by Nielson, is a simplified version of AnatomyLab intended for general public use. Real Anatomy, the DVD software the two applications were modeled after, has a higher resolution and is designed more for to the public than anatomy students.

X-ray vision

U researchers put together different internal scans of the human body, forming a 3-D image of the different parts of the body in a new iPhone application, ImageVis3D, said Chris Johnson, director of Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute and a U professor of computer science. Adjunct faculty member at the SCI Institute Jens Krueger, who also designed the iPhone application, and SCI Institute software developer Tom Fogal, developed a desktop version of ImageVis3D.

“The idea was to create the necessary information in a mobile version of the software,” Johnson said. “There are all kinds of things you can do with this.”

The application includes all the various body parts. Each body part can be adjusted to view the different systems. For example, users can view the hand with the bone and vascular system and then add the muscles to see how each layer looks, Johnson said. Stereo versions, images that can be viewed through 3-D glasses, are also available.

The application also has wireless and Bluetooth capabilities so users can add their own images. Doctors can add patients’ scans to the desktop version to analyze it and then send it to the iPhone to show images to the patient without having to cart around a desktop computer, Fogal said. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy funded both versions because of the need for the large-scale visuals that could run on laptops, Johnson said.

Nielsen is working on two new applications that will focus on the muscular and skeletal systems.

“People interested in learning anatomy have the opportunity to look at a real cadaver,” Nielsen said. “It can help a lot of people study anatomy.”

AnatomyLab and My Body provide the public with another source to learn the human body. Images can be sent to the computer and used in PowerPoint presentations teachers use in the classroom. Although the applications were originally intended for students and teachers, medical professionals can use the applications to educate patients about their body, Nielsen said.

AnatomyLab is $9.99, My Body is $1.99, and ImageVis3D Mobile is free. All of them can be downloaded from iTunes.

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