In late November, the medical illustration company Visible Body released its latest iPad app, Skeleton Premium 2, and gave us a complimentary copy to review (normal price: $19.99). You may be familiar with the firm, also operating as Argosy Publishing, because of our previous coverage of their apps such as the Human Anatomy Atlas.
Skeleton Premium 2 is a comprehensive atlas of the skeletal system, featuring over 800 bony landmarks that can be viewed from virtually any angle. Each landmark also has an accompanying textual description and audio pronunciation (try saying “triquetrum” five times quickly). Unlike most atlases, including all print-based ones, Skeleton Premium 2 also contains 3D moving models of synovial joints and short animations describing conditions such as osteoporosis and burst fractures. To top it off, the app also features over 500 practice questions that can help you solidify your newly acquired knowledge. Most any orthopedist, student, or generally-interested person would find Skeleton Premium 2 a worthwhile investment, if only for its stunning, drool-inducing renderings.
We wanted to learn more about the app and its creator, Visible Body, so we took the opportunity to interview CEO, Andrew Bowditch.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: Visible Body was founded in 1996. How has your vision changed, if at all, over the last 15 years with the introduction of smartphones and tablets?
Andrew Bowditch: Fifteen years ago, the market for our content was limited to only the largest publishers, medical device and pharmaceutical companies. We had started to build our anatomy models, but they were too large, complex, and memory-intensive for the average consumer. Our first big breakthrough was in 2008 when we figured out a way to deliver Visible Body Human Anatomy Atlas on the web. We started our shift towards consumer applications at that point. When the first iPad came out, we were incredibly excited at the potential, but had to wait for the second generation. Since the day the iPad2 came out and we realized this new device had the necessary processing power, our company’s driving vision has been to provide cutting edge anatomy and physiology content to individuals at an affordable price.
Medgadget: How large is the Visible Body team and about how many animators are on staff?
Bowditch: We have just over a dozen medical animators on staff. The team that creates an app includes professionals in content development, 3D medical animation and illustration, and software development. Overall about 35 people are involved in the development of products.
Medgadget: Are products like Skeleton Premium 2 primarily for training clinicians, practicing clinicians, or patients? Who are the stakeholders that Visible Body works with?
Bowditch: Our Premium line of products are deep dives into individual body systems. Skeletal Premium 2 includes over 800 bony landmarks, for example, which are visually displayed as color maps on fully interactive 3D bone models and are cross referenced with key data about their function. For training clinicians and practicing clinicians, this is essential learning and reference content. We are constantly reaching out to healthcare professionals, students, and professors/instructors. They content review and beta test. Our goal is to take an enormous amount of information, make it is easy to access, easy to visualize, easy to customize, and easy to carry around.
For most patients, unless they are anatomy geeks, it’s a lot more information than they would typically require. We do know that many clinicians use our apps for patient education, whether in displaying anatomy or showing an included animation to teach the patient about a pathology or procedure.
Medgadget: What is Visible Body’s next product focus?
Bowditch: The most important product currently in our pipeline is an Anatomy & Physiology Guide that will leverage our anatomy models, our animation expertise, and our pedagogic know-how to provide users with a complete, highly visual, highly interactive learning tool for a first year introduction to Anatomy & Physiology college level course. This is a huge undertaking given the amount of content the course covers and given our own high standards. We believe, however, that its going to revolutionize the learning experience for millions of A&P students.
Medgadget: How does Visible Body differentiate itself from competing medical illustration companies?
Bowditch: We differentiate ourselves on many different levels. First of all, we believe we have the best, most accurate, and most detailed anatomical models on the market, period. Second, we have developed technology that allows users to interact with the models in limitless ways. Other app developers choose which anatomical structures you can see from which angle; our proprietary technology allows you to see any combination of structures you choose from any angle whatsoever. Third, we believe in beautiful visuals and elegant design; the whole point is to make visualizing this content easy and enjoyable, not complicated and clunky.
Finally, we are committed to constantly improving and upgrading our products. We want our users to always have the very best app out there, regardless of whether they bought it yesterday or two years ago. We love the ability to provide our customers with free upgrades.
Medgadget: What most excites you concerning trends in medical technology and healthcare?
Bowditch: The pace at which mobile technology is being pushed forward is very exciting to us. The improvements we’ve seen over subsequent generations of hardware technology can allow software developers like us to dream big in what we’ll be able to create in the near future. At the same time, as devices become less and expensive and easier to carry around, the size of our potential market increases, allowing us to make these investments and take big risks. It’s really not a stretch to imagine a day when every single medical practitioner and student will carry around a tablet filled with incredible, versatile medical content. What’s not to be excited about?
To learn more about Skeleton Premium 2, visit its iTunes page and watch the iPad Tutorial below: