AnatomyLab Software uses Internet as multilingual Knowledge Base

Chiang Mai 14 February 2008Next Dimension Imaging, a private, independent software company located in Chiang Mai, Thailand, known for its long experience in medical 3D imaging technology has published its new medical product, AnatomyLab II. It is a platform for teaching, learning and presenting human anatomical content. Predecessor product AnatomyLab 1 was released two years ago and has pioneered new interaction and navigation techniques. In order to manage and navigate large scale anatomical models, the system was further improved and refined. While for AnatomyLab 1, users have to acquire 3D-models separately and load it externally, AnatomyLab II has a full body model integrated, comprising several thousand parts of bones, muscles and ligaments.

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In AnatomyLab II, customized content can be added and shared via Internet and anatomical Wikipedia articles can be displayed on-line. Sectional views into the body can be exchanged by AnatomyLab users worldwide and added content allows creation of lectures and presentations, which can be accessed via Internet or local networks. Other innovative features like semantics based navigation and multilingual on-line look-up were added.

Since the early designs of full body 3D models almost a decade ago, anatomical models have grown to become the giants among all existing 3D models. Present high-end full body models include all major body systems, have thousands of parts and the total number of polygons, which represent the organic surfaces, exceed one million.

Unlike in architectural and industrial 3D models, the surface geometry of organic structures does not follow elementary geometric laws. Tiny bone surface details, thin strings of muscles, blood vessels and nerves and thin layers of closely neighboured muscles and ligaments need to be properly scaled and accurately aligned. In years of work by experienced, skilled designer teams, accuracy and level of detail was refined based on MRI and CT scans and with support from medical professionals. In close teamwork, more organs were added and highly accurate full body models were created.

The total size of the models has grown so tremendously, that visualization has become a real challenge to both computer hardware and software. Limited by the performance of PC graphics hardware, the full model cannot be efficiently navigated anymore. Even, if body systems are loaded selectively, isolating a view of the desired section with available, universal 3D viewer software is practically impossible. It would require cumbersome selection of the visible parts among the thousands of total parts.

Consequently, the gigantic models could not be used in a straight forward way for visualization and exploration of the human body. 3D software specialists extract sections of interest and process it further to create animations, illustrations and movie scenes. Another obstacle, faced by model vendors who want to apply their products in new fields of application is, that 3D models can hardly be protected from illegal copying. Selling a 3D model has some similarity with selling a software application with the source code fully included.

While many model vendors claim their product to be the most accurate and most detailed model, there are few high-end models which are comprehensive and have enough accuracy and detail which would allow high close-ups. In AnatomyLab II, three major body systems of a very comprehensive full body model from partner 21st Century Solutions Ltd. / 3DSpecial were integrated. 21st Century Solutions Ltd. / 3DSpecial is a media company with headquarters in Spain. Among its products are high quality 3D models and animations.

Features in AnatomyLab II cover fast sectional loading and dissection into customized building blocks. Three-dimensional regions of interest can be quickly saved and recalled. Anatomical views can be isolated by using various selection methods in combination. 3D-views, which can be saved to very compact subset files, can be exchanged between AnatomyLab users in order to share three-dimensional body views.

A new, multilingual Wikipedia look-up technique displays on-line information related to body parts or body sections in the language of the user's choice. Right clicking a part displays the Wikipedia topic in the preferred language. If the topic does not exist in this language, the system tries to locate it in the language of the second choice. If this also fails, the search defaults to English.

Users can add content in their own language and present it to a local or global audience. A content document, which might reside on a local area network or on a web server, can be attached to a 3D-view. AnatomyLab II presents the 3D-view together with the view specific content document in a dual window. By adding custom content, lectures for students can be created, and anatomical content can be exchanged by medical professionals and made available to patients.

Founder and Managing Director Lothar Muench stated: "The consequent utilization of 3D technology in combination with information technology has enabled us to offer a product, which adds a new dimension to presenting and learning anatomy."

It was announced, that an update version with additional body systems included, is scheduled to be released within year 2008. Further product information can be found at the Next Dimension Imaging website. More company news can be found in the VMW January 2006 article Next Dimension Imaging to release Anatomy Lab e-learning application.


Leslie Versweyveld

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