remote-learning application of HoloAnatomy that began in late March is believed
to be the first of its kind in the world and the latest advance in the
educational use of the holographic headset by Case Western Reserve.
unfortunate crisis has become an opportunity to
prove that we could extend the reach of HoloLens education,” said Mark Griswold, a professor of radiology who is one of the
faculty leaders for the HoloAnatomy project.
the kind of thing for which Interactive Commons was founded,” he said,
referring to the university-wide
entity that helps faculty, staff and students use a range of visualization technologies
to enhance teaching and research. “It’s about making the world smaller, making the campus smaller
and getting people together to experience the same thing from anywhere.”
As anatomy professor Susanne Wish-Baratz recently described the anatomical structures of the human body “standing” in front of her, she did so from her home office in Cleveland—not a classroom on campus. And each of the students saw the same holographic body in their own homes.
“Welcome to my home, everyone—and a shout out to Interactive Commons for this historical moment,” she said. “Now, let’s take a look inside the human body. We begin with the thoracic cavities…”
Watch the class in action:
At that moment,
students from Michigan to Florida to California to Ontario, Canada—each wearing their own Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality
devices loaded with the digital anatomy curriculum HoloAnatomy software—saw the
same 3D model standing next to their parents’ coffee table, or in the middle
of their own kitchen floor or next to their bedroom nightstand.
Kevin Zhai, 29, the holographic image of the human model occupied the same
cleared-out space he has been using to exercise in the living room of his
one-bedroom Cleveland apartment.
thought it was great, the best of both worlds, because we had the body to
ourselves, in a way, but we also had Dr. Wish-Baratz there to describe it,”
said Zhai, a native of Seattle. “Standing in my own apartment, I could peer
into the body cavities and spend as much time in there as I wanted.”
Madishetty, 23, stood in the small office area at her parents’ home in
Northville, Michigan, leaning into the 3D images like Zhai to see the same
structures from a new angle.
“There’s such a huge difference between dissecting a cadaver and this,” Madishetty said.
“Both are valuable, but with HoloAnatomy, you can literally see through structure if you lean in like that and them come back out and the organ is still intact,” she continued. “You can’t do that with a dissection, and you can’t do it at home like this!”
HoloAnatomy curriculum, the first third-party application for the Microsoft HoloLens
device, launched in fall 2019, opening just a few months after of the new Health
Education Campus (HEC) of Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic.
students—are so far pleased with the results.
findings have found comparable exam performance between medical students who
learned anatomy using traditional methods, such as dissecting cadavers, and
those who used HoloAnatomy’s mixed-reality program using Microsoft HoloLens headsets.
of students in the last week have also found that many, like Zhai and
Madishetty, find advantages to studying the anatomy of the human body with the
help of the three-dimensional holographic images, Griswold said.
Griswold and other Case Western Reserve colleagues were the first from any university to learn of the HoloLens technology, then still under confidential development at Microsoft. The opportunity arose as Cleveland Clinic and the university were exploring ways to bring advances in technology to the HEC, which was then still in the planning and design stages.
an interdisciplinary team developed a complete 3D software suite of all of the
organs, vessels and systems that comprise human anatomy, and faculty have
repeatedly tested elements of the software
with medical students. Since the HEC opened late last spring, all first- and
second-year medical students have participated in lessons using the program.
So this latest success, achieved after a fast-paced effort to prepare, update and ship 185 headsets to students, was exciting but not unexpected, said Erin Henninger, executive director of Interactive Commons.
“I think we’ve always seen mixed reality as an opportunity to extend education outside traditional boundaries,” she said. “We can now be mixed-reality learners anywhere, as long as we have a HoloLens and WiFi.”
and Griswold said Interactive Commons and Microsoft had been working together
since about March 11 to take HoloAnatomy on the road.
said software had already been partially embedded in a cloud-storage system,
making the transition off campus a bit easier.
that this was a pandemic or would become one soon, so we knew we had to be able
to find a way to do this at home, or at a lot of different homes,” he said. “We
had been working in parallel for about the last four-and-a-half years on
Griswold said the team is also anticipating that this setup could continue a lot further into the future.
really more in line with the spirit of what’s being proposed here at Case
Western Reserve and elsewhere—learning from anywhere and more online and
modular,” he said. “If this were to continue all the way to fall semester,
we’ll be ready.”