by: Joshua Harding BSc Hons, (MS2)

The anatomy app market for the iPad is crowded to say the least, and justifiably so.

Whether you are a student, anatomist, doctor, allied health professional, or patient, these apps are likely to be of use to you.

With regards to anatomy apps that utilize 3D anatomical models in order to provide a more visual and intuitive experience, there are four major players: Visible Body, Pocket Body, Primal Pictures & 3D4Medical.

Now a new developer aims to enter the fray, Bio Sim corporation has recently released a competing app, Digital Human for iPad.

In this review I will be finding out if it has what it takes to compete with the already well-established competition.

According to Bio-Sim corporation “Digital Human for iPad is an unparalleled, real-time, fully interactive, 3-D, human anatomy browser. With unsurpassed detail, it boasts over 4,000 detailed anatomical structures, more than any other anatomical model set. It has been featured on numerous Hollywood shows, including Grey’s Anatomy.”

The key word for me in this text is anatomy browser. If you’ve seen a 3D app in action chances are not only did it deliver a 3D anatomy atlas, but also learning content on each pin, Digital Human does not provide the latter, and is as they state an ‘anatomy browser’.

On ‘browsing’ the app, Digital human doesn’t look all that impressive, especially when compared to its competition.

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The 3D model is quite good, but is let down by lower quality textures, which is ultimately what you see as the user. The anti-aliasing could be better as there are far too many jagged edges for my liking; I also feel that the GUI and general styling of the app give it a very commercial feel, as if it were designed for use by the general public to ‘browse’ rather than health professionals to use as an ‘atlas’.

So for me in terms of aesthetics, it doesn’t hit the mark. The big pro to all of these criticisms, though, is that the app runs well on the low memory first generation iPad. So, if you are currently using an iPad 1 and struggle to run the latest anatomy apps without constant crashes, this app might be worth checking out.

Digital Human uses a free movement approach to navigation, meaning you can view the anatomical model from any angle. You can do this by the intuitive hand gestures of pinch to zoom, pan using a single finger swipe, and rotation of the model using a two finger swipe. The model and/or camera will move in real time to your gestures. If you end up with your model in a somewhat funny angle (which will happen) you are also able to snap to any one of six pre-set views: ventral; dorsal; left; right; caudal and rostral.

This is certainly necessary as the freedom the navigation system gives you comes at a cost; although this navigation style is certainly a positive, the app could greatly benefit from some sort of user defined favourite views function, or pre-set viewpoints for high yield anatomical structures. This would make it easier to view distinct anatomical structures and regions more quickly, and if you intend to use this by the bedside as a patient learning aid, would certainly be a big plus.