The iPad allows users to interact with content in ways that simply aren’t possible on computers or in books. Whether navigating coronary anatomy to learn about catheterizations or reading a physiology text with integrated video references, the fun, interactive nature of the platform is perhaps its greatest asset. The folks at 3D4Medical.com seek to take full advantage of that with their NOVA series.
These applications are well suited to taking advantage of the large screens of the iPads due to the highly visual nature of anatomy. 3D4Medical.com has had success in the App Store with over 40 applications available including one iPhone app of the week. Its latest offering, NOVA series, is based upon innovative technology that allows users to navigate around a 3D model using nothing more than their finger. Users can rotate, cut, zoom and view animations of the body. There are currently five applications in the Nova series. This review will focus on Brain Pro-iPad edition.
As the name suggests, Brain Pro covers the essential anatomy of the brain. The models are attractive and highly detailed allowing the application to suitably replace a standard anatomy atlas. The application is primarily designed as a learning tool, although 3D4Medical.com has built in a searchable index which allows it to be used for anatomical reference. Upon launching the application, users are presented with a realistic model of a skull, which can be subsequently manipulated using simple touch gestures. Innovative flicks allow the user to split the model either horizontally or vertically. This improves understanding of how each component of the brain fits together anatomically.
The application also includes a vast range of pins which are accessible in either coronal, sagital or transverse views. Some users have complained that the model, when in-between these different views, will rotate around to one of these views in order to display the pins and it is not always clear which direction it will rotate. It is a shame that it is not possible to maintain the location of the pins whilst the model is rotated. In spite of this defect, the detailed information presented with each pin gives the user a brief introduction to the function of that structure (See screenshot for example). Additionally, there is a section in which the user can add their own notes to each pin.
Another useful feature of the application is its ability to select and remove layers of the brain. There is an option to change the transparency of various layers of the brain, which improves anatomical understanding of structures usually hidden, such as the ventricles. It is also possible to apply Netters color coding to various neurological structures.
Like many learning-focused applications, Brain Pro includes a quiz section which randomly selects labeled areas within the application and automatically produces a multi-choice quiz based on the relevant area. Users are offered six options, although it is not possible to adjust the view of the pin.
Unfortunately, one major drawback of this application is that there is only one cross-sectional slice per orthogonal anatomical plane. The application lacks the ability to view slices of the brain in any other orientation. This is a disappointing omission from an otherwise complete application.
- Attractive models that are easily manipulated
- Ability to select and adjust the opacity of different layers
- Information related to the function of each pin
- Pins are only available in the three anatomical planes rather than the complete model
- Only one cross sectional slice per orthogonal anatomical view
- This application contains many successful features such as realistic images, selective layers, pin information, dynamic quiz function which ensures that it is certainly worth a look.
- In spite of the lack of multiple cross-sectional slices, the overall look and feel of the application is very professional and would be useful to a range of medical professionals, particularly those whose studies currently focus on the brain.