IBM Takes 3-D Innovation to the Doctor's Office

IBM Takes 3-D Innovation to the Doctor's Office

Researchers unveil prototype software that lets physicians better visualize medical data.

Looking for examples of how manufacturers are using visualization software to grow their businesses? Look no further than IBM Research, which recently unveiled prototype software that allows doctors to visualize patient medical records using an interactive model of the human body. Opportunities abound as medical records transition from paper-based to electronic models.

The technology uses an avatar -- a three-dimensional representation of the body -- to let doctors explore their patients' medical records. Called the Anatomic and Symbolic Mapper Engine (ASME), the technology allows doctors to click with a computer mouse on a particular part of the avatar "body" to retrieve relevant information. For example, a doctor could click on the avatar's "knee" and quickly see all the available medical history and information related to the patient's knee.

"It's like Google Earth for the body," says IBM researcher Andre Elisseeff. Doctors also can get views beneath the skin.

Technical challenges for the IBM researchers included integrating heterogeneous data sources and complex text-based information, and linking that to the anatomical model in both a meaningful and easy-to-navigate way. Looking ahead, researchers will explore integrating speech technology into the ASME.

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