RISE ICT stories: 3D visualization tool reveals the unknown

Imagine a tablet device the size of a dining table. You sweep the surface with your fingers to experience and explore objects in intricate 3D detail. Welcome to inside explorer – a powerful visualization tool that gives visitors to museums and science centers the chance to interact with exhibited objects.

RISE Interactive first presented a prototype of The Virtual Autopsy Table, a forerunner to Inside Explorer, in 2009. The visualization system, based on software, Computer Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), transforms physical objects into digital entities and was originally developed to support forensic autopsy work.

The system was a result of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between Interactive Institute, Center for Medical Image Science Center (CMIV) and Visualization Center C. Today, universities and hospitals use the system for educational purposes and as a complement to perform autopsies.

“We understood that the visualization system could also be used in other applications, so Interactive Institute continued to develop the product,” says Thomas Rydell at Interactive Institute.

Smart technology

Three years later, the Inside Explorer found a new user base: visitors at science centers and museums. Anything that can be scanned can also be visualized, explored and used as the basis for an interactive visitor experience – from meteorites to ancient mummies. The system requires no training, and visitors can interact with it in seconds.

Inside Explorer can also be supplied with a number of anatomy datasets from an existing digital library. Museums can scan their own objects or partner with local hospitals to conduct their own research and the Interactive Institute can then work with them to provide visualization experiences.

Finding success worldwide

To date, nearly 10 institutions have used InsideExplorer worldwide, including the British Museum, Singapore Science Center and National Museum for Technology in Stockholm. For one of the British Museum’s most well-known mummies, over 5,500 years old, Inside Explorer even helped the curators to discover that the mummy had almost certainly been murdered.

Endless possibilities

Thomas Rydell is also eyeing another field of application for the Inside Explorer. “Some scientists are considering the idea of converting physical objects at museums into digital libraries,” he comments. “This makes it possible to use non-invasive methods to archive collections. One goal is to create digital 3D archives for entire species, that could be used for research, public access and interactive educational experiences,” he explains.

Project partners

RISE Interactive, Visualization Center C, Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization.

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