Google has just soft-launched its latest browser experiment, the Google Body Browser, which is basically Google Earth for the human body.
Think of it as a three-dimensional, multi-layered browser version of those Visible Man/Woman model kits. Or a virtualized version of Slim Goodbody, if you will.
Google showed off the app at the WebGL Camp. WebGL is a cross-platform low-level 3D graphics API that is designed to bring plugin-free 3D to the web. It uses the HTML5 Canvas element and does not require Flash, Java or other graphical plugins to run.
If you visit bodybrowser.googlelabs.com in a supported web browser, you’ll get a three-dimensional layered model of the human anatomy that you can zoom in on, rotate and search.
WebGL support hasn’t hit mainstream browsers, but the beta versions of Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox all support it.
Once you’ve got a compatible browser, visiting the Body Browser home page shows off the human body. You can adjust the various layers of skin, muscles, tissues and the skeletal system.
What’s really cool is that if you type in an organ or bone or ventricle system, you are taken directly to that area in the anatomy, zoomed in. You can turn labels on or off and the app supports multitouch so users of trackpads (Magic or otherwise) or multi-touch mice can zoom in with ease.
Notice that the application doesn’t require a plugin. “Unlike other web based medical applications I have seen, no Flash, Java, or other plugins are needed. This application will run on any WebGL supported browser.
This is a pretty cool display of new web technologies. Presumably the use case is for the healthcare industry, but educators and students can benefit from this kind of demonstration too.