Thursday, December 16, 2010

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Behold Google's Body Browser in WebGL -- Google Earth for the Human Body (And the Shape of Avatars to Come)

Google Body Browser

The Google Body Browser is very cool application of WebGL, the 3D graphics protocol that was just integrated into Google Chrome's Beta channel today. To check it out, you'll of course need to download Chrome Beta or Firefox Beta. It displays a human body in full 3D, and at the moment (it's only a 20% complete application), you can move your camera view around it entirely. But that's just the start:

Browsing the body in Google Body Browser

Essentially, the Body Browser is Google Earth for the human body, and can display its many systems in real time: skeletal, nervous, internal organs, and so on. As shown in the above screenshot, body parts are searchable and displayable as keywords. The medical/educational aspects here are immediately obvious, but it also points to the future of avatars in WebGL. Unsurprisingly, I found this link in the social media channel of Henrik Bennetsen, the Linden Lab veteran who recently launched KataSpace, a virtual world platform running on WebGL.

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Arcadia Codesmith

Give me universal avatars that I can take into any of my virtual worlds or online games, and I will be well-pleased.

Astaroth

This is better than some crappy avatar. This is science.

Hamlet Au

I believe in science!

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Very exciting, this. I'll take 2, Arcadia, if you are correct about avatars we could take to any VW that is compatible with some new Googloid scheme.

For Hamlet, I have this:

"She blinded me with science
She blinded ME with science!
And hit me with technology

"Good heavens Miss Sakamoto - you're beautiful!"

Enter lab-coated dancing scientists, one with jetpack. If you are too young or old to get that reference, point your time machine to 1980 and start there.

cube inada

no. this is technology.. science would give us new knowledge and demos like this have been done online years ago.

at best... a kid with the right technology could use this presentation to assist in the learning of a few scientific facts/theories....

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

"Science!"

Now I have a reason to see Nacho Libre.

Laetizia Coronet

Since Cube mentions kids, has any of the usual American rightwing anti-education, anti-information born-again think-of-the-children idiots protested yet?
'Exploring the human body' sounds positively adult now don't it.

Arcadia Codesmith

Probably about the same number that want to take a rotary sander to Michelangelo's "David" -- that is, the fruitcakes that even the other fruitcakes think are going a little too far.

Extropia DaSilva

Someone called Natalia Alexandrov wrote an article for New Scientist called 'Your Virtual Twin', in which she spoke of future medical technologies involving avatars. She reckoned that the models of organs and systems we have today- such as 'network models of the metabolic, immune, nervous and circulatory systems' and 'structural models of the heart and other muscles' would grow in fidelity, and that there would be "the integration of subsystem models into one systematic model". In other words, the avatar would become a working model, emulating all the functions of the original.

My Second Life profile reads:

"Co-evolution applied to people and search engines implies...A decentralized thinking substrate that contains your mind within itself. Avatars will become increasingly autonomous as this evolution unfolds, until they are 'mind children': Artificial intelligences that are, at least, equivilent in mental capacity to human beings".

Perhaps it is not too unreasonable to suppose Google's latest venture may be the bare beginnings of Alexandrov's biologically-accurate models of humans. Although she describes its usefulness in terms of medical treatment (the simulation mimics your body, so virtual drugs are tried out on your avatar body, to test for short and long-term effects), this may ultimately be used to give uploaded minds a recognizable body map, easing them into posthuman existence.

Extropia DaSilva

Haiku time!

Believe in science

And technology will flow

Carry us downstream.

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