Sensor serves up body slices

May 21/28, 2003

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have made it easier to visualize what's under someone's skin.

The researchers combined a two-pronged navigational device, computer and anatomy model to provide easy access to images from the Visible Human Project, a set of 1-millimeter-thick cross-sectional images of a human body.

The interface makes it easy for a user to retrieve a cross-sectional image at any angle by surrounding a portion of the model with the navigation device, which spans the width of the model and contains a sensor that allows the computer to track its position.

The scheme includes software that downloads the images from the Web and interpolates, or stitches together the files, to provide a cross-section at the desired angle. The computer screen shows the cross-section along with a map of the body that indicates the location of the slice.

In a study of 40 high school biology students, the researchers showed that the interface is intuitive and encourages collaboration.

The device will become practical for schools when the costs of the sensor and fast Internet access become more affordable, according to the researchers. The researchers presented the work at the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference in April 2003.

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