Every once in a while you see a site and think to yourself, “THIS is what computers are all about.” Visible Body is one of those sites. When you load it up, it presents you with the human skeleton, every bone modeled in 3D with incredible attention to detail. You can zoom in on any part of it, rotate the model, change the axis and so on. You can move yourself into the rib cage and spin yourself around, getting the insiders view of things if you will.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On the left side, they have expandable lists of each system in the human body. By clicking on the different parts, you can make them visible, invisible or semi-visible. You can drill down to an incredibly granular level, allowing you full control over every single bone in the body. Want to hide the teeth so you can get a better view of the mandible? One click and they’re gone. Isolate the spinal column? Piece of cake.
Of course, that’s just the skeleton. You can then start layering on the musculatory system, the circulatory system, digestive system, respiratory system and so on. Once again, the level of detail is astonishing. And by judiciously making other parts invisible or semi-visible, you can get a great view of any part of the body you want. Don’t know what a part of the body is called? Just click on the 3d model of it and it’ll highlight it in the list for you.
Remember how cool Google Earth was when you first experienced it? Adding layers, zooming in on different places, exploring just because it was so much fun to do so. Well, swap out the earth for the human body and that’s basically what Visible Body is. The YouTube video below shows you a glimpse of it, but you really need to try it out yourself to get see how interesting this really is. Personally, I got a real kick out of just starting off with a skeletal foot. Then I’d add on the circulatory layer, follow that up with the nervous system layer, add in the muscles and then add on the integumentary system (which I guess is scientific for ‘skin’). End result is 5 little piggies that went to the market.
There’s only one down side to the site, and that’s that as of right now it will only work in Internet Explorer. So I’m pretty sure that’ll exclude all of our OSX friends that aren’t running VMware, Parallels or Boot Camp. Also, there’s no offline version yet (like Google Earth), which I think would be pretty darn handy to have available. Other than that though, I’m a huge fan of the site and have added it to my ‘must have in tool box’ list.
While this certainly isn’t the first 3d model of human anatomy, it’s certainly one of the easiest, most intuitive and most highly detailed that I can recall playing with. Check it out yourself and then share your impressions here!