Explore anatomy from skin to bones with the Virtual Human Body [Review]

An anatomy and physiology app might not scream Christmas, but it’s a good way for students to stay sharp over holiday break.

Virtual Human Body enables you to explore the human anatomy from head to toe and from skin to bones. Unlike other anatomy apps I’ve used in the past, VHB doesn’t use real cadaver images. This might disappoint some, but the lifelike model is still quite impressive.

The app has several notable features, but perhaps the most valuable to students is the possibility to overlap two systems of the human body to better visualize their relationships. For example, if you’re looking at the skeletal system, tap Dual View from the bottom navigation bar and a smaller box displaying the morphology will appear.

Inside the box is a small icon of a person, tapping on it will show you other optional overlays, such as the muscles or cardiovascular system. You can also control the transparency of the overlay so you can see both systems at once. Oh, and did I mention that you can move this box up and down the body to view each section? You can.

Tapping on Pins in the navigation bar will bring up red markers identifying specific structures. It’s a great way to quiz yourself as tapping on each red marker will not only tell you what that structure is, but what it attaches to as well as its function. (I personally love using this feature for the muscles.) If you’re using VHB on the iPhone, you’ll probably want to zoom in so you see everything in greater detail.

Other nice features include the ability to change your view from anterior to posterior, lateral, superior, or inferior. You can also move deeper using the Layers feature — it’s only available for certain systems and views. And if you’re on the hunt for something specific, you can use the app’s search feature to look it up. And unlike other anatomy apps that often range in price, Virtual Human Body only costs $4.99.

My only complaint, and it’s really very small, is that when I want to switch to another system, I constantly tap on the Home button instead of systems. In many apps, users are used to tapping the top left corner to go back to the previous screen. It’s by no means a deal-breaker; it’s just something that you might have to get used to.

While I’ve only tested this on the iPhone, I can only imagine how beautiful it is on the iPad. However, if you’re limited to using a smaller screen, Virtual Human Body is still an incredibly helpful resource. I recommend it to anyone studying the human body, as well as those with a casual interest.

[iTunes]

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