Hello again. As a Biomedical Art student I rely on accurate information, good references, and effective rendering skills to make a good piece. A lot of what we do in the department involves copious amounts of research, a lot of books, and a lot of time spent in libraries. It’s heavy material, and not conducive to reading in a coffee shop or even your home. So I took it upon myself to examine a few of the free medical iPad apps available for download. We all know Inkling is a great tool for interactive textbooks, so much so that it already received its own post! But what of the smaller, less expensive ones? Are they any good? In this week’s edition, I take a look at just that.
The Netter atlas of anatomy is a classic. Often referred to as the grandfather of biomedical illustration, his color plates have been in use since their creation, and show no signs of going out of date. Every medical art student should already have a large, heavy, hardbound copy of Netter’s atlas already, but what if you want something lighter, for on-the-go use? It’s Netter. How can they possibly go wrong?
It looks good so far. You can browse by region of the body, or system. You can bookmark important images and take notes. Let’s have a look at the interface, shall we?
Still looking good. All the labels are up, and the beautiful colors and renderings that keep these drawings relevant are vibrant.
There’s even a quiz function! You can test yourself on the anatomy of the skull. This is fantastic! But everything has its downfall.
There are only 10 images set up this way. The full Netter’s atlas of human anatomy is pretty pricey, as most anatomy atlases are. So unfortunately, unless your main focus right now is the skull, muscles of the back, or the abdominal viscera, this app may not have what you need.
But let’s not get discouraged. There are more where that one came from! So let’s have a look at:
This is another classic of the medical illustration community. Joseph Maclise’s morbid cadaver drawings have been inspiring medical artists and horrifying everyone else since 1859. The delicate rendering style and selective color are all well and good, but lets see what kind of app this turns out to be.
Although initially weird to navigate and hard to search, eventually one does get into the flow of looking up images in this app by using the thumbnail view at the bottom.
This was from the time before the medical community decided to stop putting peoples faces or dramatic poses in their work. Seems good right? the drawings are archaic, but it isn’t the app’s fault. These images are still used to teach surgical anatony. As long as the labeling is up to date, I don’t see why anyone would have an issue with…
Oh dear. That’s the original text from the 1859 publication. This is not an up to date human anatomy atlas with old plates, this is the old atlas. The trouble being that back when this was published, anatomists still had almost no idea what was really going on in the body, and it shows in their descriptions. As a visual tool, this app is great. It has 68 illustrated plates. But as a factual reference? I would shy away.
Surgical Anatomy – $3.99 in the iTunes store
No worries, there’s still:
Now, to be frank, 3D4Medical is a great company and it makes amazing educational apps. They’re relatively inexpensive and full of good learning tools. Each bodily system is a $1.99 purchase. However, the same company has put out a free app, and I am all about free apps. So let’s see what it’s about.
Okay, it seems like a gallery. Fair enough, let’s go through some of the images.
Unfortunately they lack labeling and context. This app is a portfolio for the 3d4Medical company, proving what they can do. If you have the extra two dollars, seriously do invest in one of their real apps. but the free one is a collection of very pretty wallpapers.
Ok, how about this one?
I know it’s limited to just the brain, but it seems to be rated very highly, and really, there’s no such thing as too much neurology.
A rotatable brain interface. use one finger to turn and two to zoom. The model seems pretty accurate, so let’s look at the features.
Labels! Those are always good. But this is only the external anatomy. Can we look inside?
Absolutely! you can pick any neural system you want from the menu, and see all of its structures in great detail, from different angles.
And a full overview of the limbic system, its components, and its functions! Beautiful! They should all be like this! free, easy to use, rotatable, and a joy to learn from. Unfortunately, the developers got to get paid.
3D Brain – FREE in the iTunes store
So my advice when seeking medical apps is: just pay the money. It can’t be worse than the hundred or so dollars you would pay for a nice big hardbound atlas. And if you don’t have the money, the library will always be there for you.