Google Body Browser peels back layers to show what lies beneath

body browser makes grays anatomy obsolete

Google Body Browser provides a free 3-D view of human anatomy that could replace traditional sources used for medical research. Image: CC nu scott/Flickr

The “body browser,” is the latest product from Google that gives users a detailed lesson in human anatomy. Google Body Browser peels back layers of skin, muscle and tissue to reveal what lies beneath. Anyone with a computer and a compatible browser can use Google Body to gain 3-D insight into their own internal condition.

Body browser gets under your skin

Google’s Body Browser opens with the image of a woman standing in front of you in her workout clothes. She doesn’t get naked. But to focus on a particular area of the human body, zoom in and peel back successive layers to expose muscles, organs, arteries, veins, bones and nerves. Much like Google Maps, you can select a “labels” function that provides notes on all the various parts and pieces displayed. The Google Body Browser lets you do such things as watch how joints work and trace the flow of blood through the heart.

Displacing existing anatomy software

Google Body Browser seems destined to replace many research tools used by students and doctors. The dusty pages of Gray’s Anatomy could be headed for the medical museum. Developers of expensive 3-D anatomy software such as Primal Pictures and Visible Body have to look for another racket. Doctors could use it as an online educational tool or as a visual aid in video conferences with patients and colleagues. Tech experts predict that Google will regularly update the body browser to perform such functions as illustrating the progression of diseases and showing how surgeries repair damaged joints.

How to use the body browser

Google Body Browser is a WebGL application. WebGL is default-enabled in the beta 9 version of Google Chrome. Other browsers reported to be compatible with WebGL include Chrome Canary Build and Firefox 4. WebGL is available in Google 8 but needs to be enabled by typing “about:flags” in the address bar, clicking “Enable” next to “WebGL” and then clicking “Restart now.” Once you’re enabled, Google Body Browser doesn’t need Flash, Java or any other plugins.


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