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 University of Calgary Unveils the CAVEman Virtual Human

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Date posted: 21/06/2007

Scientists at the University of Calgary have created the world?s first complete object-oriented computer model of a human body. Far superior to a series of slides, or a textbook, the model is codenamed CAVEman. CAVEman is four-dimensional, as opposed to three, because he can move, as opposed to being static. He can interact with those studying him.

CAVEman can access the whole body, or scale right in to individual organs, or even capillaries, all the time maintaining the 3D spatial awareness of the tissues organs around what is being studied.

Because it takes place in a CAVE which is a non-immersive VR system that wraps the VR around the user, but does not immerse them bodily, it allows large groups to experiment with the virtual body at the same time.

CAVEman resides in the CAVE, a cube-shaped virtual reality room, also known as the "research Holodeck", in which the 4D human model floats in space, projected from three walls and the floor below.

"Six years ago, we gathered a team of computer scientists, biologists, mathematicians, and artists," says Christoph Sensen, PhD, director of the Sun Centre of Excellence for Visual Genomics at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine. "Our goal was to build a model of a complete human, at 10 times the resolution of anything else on the market. I am proud to say today, we have reached that goal."

This project first began as the brainchild of a small company in Red Deer, Alberta. "Our initial goal was to make computer models that could be utilised for our massage therapy training program," says Brenda Grosenick, co-owner of Kasterstener Inc. "We approached U of C with the concept, and suddenly, we were working on something much more elaborate than we could have ever imagined!"

Dr. Christopher Sensen, director of the Sun Center of Excellence for Visual Genomics 
  of the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, examines the 4D model of a 
  human body in the CAVE.

The 4D human atlas is built upon data from basic anatomy textbooks. Fundamental body systems and organs were rendered into animated drawings by a graphic artist, and converted into Java 3DTM to bring them to life in the CAVE environment. "CAVEman is designed to look like a real human, but can also be sized to any scale we want," says Sensen. "We can display all or only a few select components of the model at any given time."

CAVEman is designed to help medical researchers investigate the genetics of various diseases, and new approaches to targeted treatments. "This technology is a powerful tool for my research into how genetic mutations lead to developmental problems such as cleft lip and palate," says Benedikt Hallgrimsson, PhD, associate professor of cell biology and anatomy, U of C's Faculty of Medicine. "As the technology grows, it will be useful for diverse studies of growth and development, both for creating predictive models and also for complex visualisation."

See the full Story via external site: www.ucalgary.ca

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