Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: Google Body Browser

Google's overarching corporate goal is to "organize the world's information." This vision drives all of their product development and is undoubtedly the foundation of their latest addition-- Google Body Browser. Slapped with a Beta tag (it wouldn't be Google if it didn't say Beta!), the Body Browser is a bit rough, but has tremendous potential.

The Google engineers responsible for Body Browser borrowed a few parts from other Google products. Regular users of Google Maps or Google Earth will immediately recognize the navigational interface. Searching for an organ reveals instant results a-la Google Instant technology.

Google Body Browser was revealed at a technology conference (WebGL Camp) on December 15. It was released publicly on December 16 as a Google Lab project.

Navigating and using Google Body Browser is so simple that no explanation is needed. If you're ready to try, make sure you have a web browser that includes WebGL (an HTML element that enables 3D graphics without using Flash or other 3rd party plugins). Browsers that will work include Google Chrome 9, FireFox 4.0/b1. Mac  users running OS X 10.6 or later can run Body Browser in Safari after enabling WebGL.

If you don't have the correct browser version, you will see the banner image posted above. If your browser is compatible, you'll jump right into exploring the human body!

As an anatomy and biology teacher I'm excited about using Body Browser in the classroom. It will certainly make learning human anatomy more interesting and interactive. Here are some ideas for using Body Browser in your classroom:

  • Teach muscle attachments (a difficult concept) with the muscular and skeletal layers turned on.
  • Teach the importance of anatomical naming conventions by exploring related structures (a good example is the clavical, subclavian muscle, subclavian vein and subclavian artery)
  • If you have an interactive whiteboard, play "pig" or "horse" as a class, asking each student to name a structure and then challenge the next student to name a different structure. 
  • Compare and contrast the mapping of veins and arteries.
I also have a few suggestions (which I have submitted to Google) to improve Body Browser: 
  • Add layer support similar to that used in Google Earth. Users content can further enhance and extend the visual exploration of the body by providing textual or multimedia information related to specific body features.  This would be a great opportunity for companies like WebMD or A.D.A.M. to leverage their existing content. 
  • Include X-ray and CT scan views of the body. 
  • Enable the exploration of the inner brain, not just the external hemispheres. 
  • Enable exploration of the inner heart, not just the external features. 

4 comments:

  1. Looks fantastic but not working in my browser.

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  2. Hi Podłogi Drewniane, thanks for the comment. In order to use Body Browser you will need to have the most recent version of Google Chrome or FireFox. Internet Explorer does not yet support the features necessary to run the website.

    ReplyDelete
  3. try anatronica.com as well, good tool!

    ReplyDelete
  4. eXmastermind, thanks for the tip. I have not tried Anatronica, but it look's like something worth exploring. I appreciate your readership!

    ReplyDelete

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