Surgeons may have a new tool at their disposal to aid in planning surgeries: an interactive “4-dimensional” model of the human body called CAVEman which describes in live-sized detail over 3000 distinct human parts. CAVEman is really just a huge computer image which can be viewed in a booth (giving the image height, width, and depth) and changes over time to reflect age, disease state, etc. This progression of time is the “fourth dimension.”
CAVEman has the potential to help patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment by having it visually represented to them in layman’s terms. For the non-layman, CAVEman can organize “the unique visuals of patients, such as magnetic resonance images, CAT scans and X-Rays, giving physicians high-resolution views of the inner workings of the body while it appears to float within arm’s reach.” It could also be used as a teaching tool to med students, possibly providing a much-appreciated alternative to the (icky) cadaver.
CAVEman is an offshoot of a 3D virtual reality “Cave”, a C$6 million ($5.5 million) lab the Sun Center opened in 2002 in conjunction with Sun Microsystems Inc.
The model started partly due to a desire among massage therapy teachers at a company in the central Alberta city of Red Deer for a more intricate picture of muscles and bones.
It cost somewhere between C$500,000 and C$2 million. “It’s very hard to guess, because it has taken many years, especially in Red Deer, with at least one or two artists constantly employed,” Sensen said.
CAVEman, seen through 3D glasses in a booth, appears to stand in front of the viewer. As in a video game, the controller can manipulate it and focus on body parts — skin, bones, muscles, organs and veins.
Also, the researchers gave the most amazing quote I’ve heard in a good long while:
“We say that killing monsters is fun, but curing cancer is more important,” Andrei Turinsky, a mathematician and computer scientist, said as he moved the model around using a joystick.
I’m envisioning an ad campaign set to NIN…..”I wanna see you from the in-side…..” Heh.
Now, will hospitals bite?
(Hat tip Bob Abu.)