Lori Driscoll, MSLS
Director, Library Services
Gulf Coast State College Library
The Visible Body suite of applications covers anatomy, physiology, and pathology, with the content and coverage varying by application. The content includes 3D illustrations, MRI scans, cadaver images, animations, quizzes, and definitions and pronunciations available in multiple languages. The content is created by biomedical visualization experts who are members of the Association of Medical Illustrators, is reviewed by an external advisory board of professors and medical professionals, and then tested by expert users.
Coverage is multidisciplinary and supports basic anatomy, massage, chiropractic, nursing, medicine, and occupational and physical therapy education. A broad range of faculty, students, and healthcare professionals use the apps for anatomy and physiology course content, labs, visual reference, and patient education.
Human Anatomy Atlas
The Human Anatomy Atlas 2017 Edition is Visible Body’s interactive encyclopedic reference, featuring over 6,000 structures and including all major organs and systems of male and female bodies. Coverage includes comprehensive gross anatomy and select microanatomy of the senses and tissue types. Cadaver slices and MRIs can be compared to the 3D models. Hundreds of thumbnail preset images of regions and body systems are interactive, enabling users to rotate, flip, zoom in and out, highlight, hide, isolate, and peel away structures and layers. The atlas presents injuries, diseases, pathologies, and 3D animations of muscle actions. Other tools include Latin terms, audible pronunciations, and thorough definitions. Hundreds of brief quizzes facilitate frequent self-assessment. It is available in seven languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish.
Three specialty apps arranged by system provide interactive 3D models, brief animations, and images similar to the Atlas, with the ability to rotate, zoom, and dissect structures; make annotations; take quizzes for study; and reference definitions and pronunciations in seven languages. The Skeleton Premium illustrates bones, ligaments, bony landmarks, moving synovial joints, bone tissue, nerve and vasculature passage, muscle attachments, and common pathologies. Muscle Premium provides 3D models of bones, ligaments, bursae, and skeletal muscles, including blood supply and innervation, and origins and insertions for both the male and female musculoskeletal system. Heart & Circulatory Premium demonstrates structures of heart and vascular anatomy, basic functions, common pathologies, and procedures through 3D anatomical models, interactive presentations, and a reference gallery of animations and illustrations.
Anatomy & Physiology
The A&P application includes the core content of a two-semester college-level introductory anatomy and physiology course sequence, and the learning objectives were devised by the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society. Similar to the other Visible Body apps, there are 3D models, short physiology animations with subtitles, and audio pronunciations and definitions of structures available in five languages. The 50 teaching modules and an instructor’s manual integrate easily into the learning management system. Students can dissect, zoom, pan, and rotate 3D models of 12 body systems. Tools include self-paced dissection quizzes and note cards to assist with study. Instructors of introductory anatomy and physiology courses could use the Anatomy & Physiology content to complement or replace a traditional A&P textbook — an appealing application for student textbook affordability initiatives.
The Physiology Animations app has fewer associated tools, but includes a library of over 100 video animations of physiological processes and conditions. These short video clips (between 30 and 60 seconds) with accompanying voiceover and text in seven languages are divided into nine groups of systems or pathologies.
Visible Body has customized applications for its various markets; the six reviewed are appropriate for college libraries. Examples of others include Anatomy & Function, an application aimed at clinicians that focuses on reference and patient education. My Incredible Body, geared toward K-8 students, won a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award and was named “Best App for Teaching & Learning” by the American Association of School Librarians. A Visible Body Course Pack bundle has been developed for institutions without site licenses to use for course instruction. There are additional anatomy atlas apps for iPad and iPhone only (Brain & Nervous System, Digestive, Reproductive & Urinary, and Respiratory) that are not part of this review.
Features & Functionality
Originating from 3D gaming technology, the 3D interactive modules, animations, and quizzes are educational yet engaging. Structures and layers can easily be rotated and removed for systemic and regional anatomy. The interface of each app is intuitive with visual navigation and search functionality. One can browse or search by anatomical structure or topic. Help topics may be accessed from within each app, and tutorials maximize use of features and functionality.
Visible Body provides two methods for web access using Windows or Mac: 1) Web Player requires the Unity Web Player plug-in and 2) WebGL, which does not require the plug-in. iPad, iPhone, and Android apps are available that provide offline access to all content.
The major weaknesses are in performance related to downloading and streaming the large quantity of high-quality interactive content. System requirements include 2GB available RAM, updated operating systems (and browsers for the web interface), and patience when loading the application for the first time, which can take a few minutes. Increasing the available cache and using a wired connection also improves the initial download. To optimize performance, users are encouraged to quit other applications and hide unnecessary objects from the viewing area.
Visible Body offers flexible subscription and purchasing options.
Individuals may purchase apps at the Visible Body web store, iTunes App Store, or Google Play; prices vary by product. The sale price of the Human Anatomy Atlas 2017 Edition was $11.99 at the time of this review, with a list price of $24.99. List prices for Anatomy & Physiology and Physiology Animations were $34.99 and $36.99, respectively.
Institutions may choose unlimited site licenses or install selected apps on a specific number of devices purchased as multi-user seat licenses through annual subscriptions. Institutional licenses may be negotiated directly with Visible Body or with Wolters Kluwer Health for use on the Ovid platform. Usage statistics are easy to obtain with the Ovid platform.
Visible Body offers a uniquely engaging product suite for teaching, learning, and reference in multiple disciplines at Gulf Coast State College. Students and faculty in biology, anatomy and physiology, and health science courses especially benefit from the Human Anatomy Atlas, Anatomy & Physiology, and the Physiology Animations applications.
For more information and to view the demo, visit www.visiblebody.com.