For over fifty years, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry featured a walk-through heart so visitors can become acquainted with the anatomy of the organ. The 16 foot tall model has served generations of Chicago’s high school kids, undoubtedly hundreds of which have become cardiologists since. Now the popular exhibit is getting a 21st century makeover and, somewhat sadly, going from a physical to a virtual 3D model. As part of a new permanent exhibit, called “You! The Experience,” the new $1 million digital heart designed by Thinc and our friends at XVIVO will be unveiled October 1, and will hopefully inspire the next generation of physicians and life scientists.
Up close, the heart exhibit normally beats on its own at a slow 60 beats a minute. But when a viewer grasps a pair of hand grips, the device picks up the person’s pulse and the model heart beats along with the viewer’s heart, as a display monitor shows the heartbeat.”We are sure that the heart will provoke all kinds of unexpected interactions from viewers,” said Hennes, who was at the museum Tuesday helping workers with final touches. “One of the guys working here learned how to put himself into a sort of a trance to slow his own heartbeat down while holding the grips.”
Eight feet wide, the new heart is sculpted from steel plate that projects from the wall, appearing to be a living organ with full-color animations projected onto its surface from seven projectors.
Putting it all together turned out to be a two-year, international effort. Hennes’ firm is doing exhibit work on the 9/11 museum under construction in New York. The imaging projected onto the heart was created by a Connecticut company, XVIVO, which specializes in creating medical animations.
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