Google’s Body Browser is a Google Earth for Human Physiology
Google has mapped just about every traffic artery you could ever want to locate on Google Maps, but what if...
Google has mapped just about every traffic artery you could ever want to locate on Google Maps, but what if the thruway you’re looking for isn’t on any road atlas? To help you tell your axillary artery from your common carotid, Google has created a G-Maps-like search-able guide for the human body that lets you zoom, scroll, and search for every muscle, gland, nerve, bone, or organ in our common physiology.
As far as handy Web apps go, Body Browser is pretty neat; a sliding scroll bar allows you to peel away layers of the body, starting at the skin and moving down through the muscles and bone/organs to the cardiovascular and nervous systems. It allows you to zoom in tight (with nice resolution) to get the name of a specific bodily bit. Clicking on anything produces a handy label that identifies what you’re looking at.
Then there’s the search function of course, which allows you to locate any part of the body by just typing in the name. Like your usual Google search, the drop down is self-populating, so even if you’re not quite up to speed on the spelling of “anterior cruciate ligament,” the app will still help you find it. Perhaps best of all: no plug-ins. No Flash, no Java. The application runs right in any WebGL supported browser. It can still be a little cumbersome – if you’re not zoomed to exactly the right level in some cases (navigating the brain is a good example) it won’t always let you click on the right object – but overall it’s a pretty smooth experience.
Of course, not every browser is WebGL-enabled, but Chrome 9 Beta and Firefox 4 beta are, and both are available for download. Body Browser hasn’t landed in Google Labs just yet, but you can take it for a spin around your insides now through the Google Operating System blog. Barring that, you can get a somewhat rough tour via the video below.