Monday, April 18, 2011

Interactive 3D Simulation Demonstrates Climate Change Science and Solutions

It's common knowledge that interactive 3D training simulators can be used to reduce the consumption of fuel during the training of heavy equipment operators, thus helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that's not the only way they can contribute to climate change solutions. The University of British Columbia has developed an interactive 3D simulation, named Future Delta, that demonstrates the results of global warming virtually, and allows users to see how the actions of humans directly impact the environment.

Future Delta 3D Simulation
Interactive 3D Climate Change Simulation

3D Simulations Immerse and Involve Users

By developing and distributing an interactive 3D simulation, The University of British Columbia's hopes to raise the public's awareness of the issues surrounding climate change and methods for reducing carbon footprints. A game-like 3D simulation has the ability to reach a portion of the audience that traditional informational material may not, and immerses users in the content allowing them to participate and have a richer experience, become more vested in the problem.

To further involve local users and gain their interest and support, the simulation's virtual environment is a replication of the flood-prone Delta, British Columbia area, which is close to the UBC Okanagan campus where the project is being developed and led by Aleksandra Dulic, Professor of Interactive Art and Dynamic Media. Says Professor Dulic:
"The hope is that when people recognize their neighborhood, their home, or their community, they will feel a personalized connection that helps to accelerate their sense of urgency in making smart environmental choices. We are taking complicated science and applying it to the neighborhood level so people can experience cause and effect and see how their personal choices may impact their own community."

While the simulation is aimed and solving some of the specific problems the Delta area is facing, simulation software like this can be developed to model any place and any problem.

Global Warming 3D Simulation
Global Warming Solution 3D Simulation

Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis

Future Delta is part climate change science modeling simulator, and part socioeconomic scenario analysis simulation. By providing an interactive 3D learning environment, people become active participants, rather than passive audience members, and are more likely to grasp complex climate change science principles, and take an interest in their potential solutions.

The project is funded by an Image, Sound, Text and Technology grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. The bios of the team members and a demo version of the application is available at: which states that:

"The Future Delta simulation encapsulates climate change challenges, adaptation, mitigation, technology and policy options, as well as choices and influences on a neighborhood scale. The hyper-realistic modeling of Beach Grove road is based on observational data, such as terrain data, maps, etc, while the simulation models are based on geophysical and integrated assessment models."

The simulation includes storm and flooding models based on real-world future predictions for the Delta area, thus simulating scenarios that are more likely to actually occur. As more people around the world are affected by global warming and climate change, it will be important to educate the public and private sectors in regards to the concepts of climate change and what to expect.

Interactive 3D Climate Change Simulator
Interactive 3D Climate Change Simulator

When conveying complicated information to people it's important to choose the appropriate delivery mechanism. Interactive 3D simulations are great tools for engaging people with the material and concepts you want to present. Easily deployed over the internet, they can be made readily available to a large audience, providing the potential for you to reach a larger audience than more traditional educational material can.

Like one of my favorite proverbs says:

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google's 3D Body Browser

As with most people, I'm often asked why I do the work that I do. Or how I first became interested in this stuff, and today I got a great reminder. Both of how I first got interested in this type of work, and also how far the industry has come. When I was a kid back in the 1970's, an Encyclopedia Britannica was pretty much all we had when it came to learning material. We probably didn't yet have a color TV yet, and certainly no VCR, computer, Internet, or cell phone. The Encyclopedia Britannica was the only thing, other than my dad, that I could turn to for information.

Of course the best part of the book was the transparent and semi-transparent pages that depicted the human body. One of the earliest forms of interactive media, the book let you could decide which layers you wanted to see by which pages you viewed, perhaps deciding to show only the skeletal and muscular systems, while hiding others. The first page contained all the part name labels, so you could quickly flip that page over and get the name of any part of the human body.

Well I've got to say that Google Body beats Encyclopedia Britannica. Google Body is a free, WebGL supported browser-based (like Chrome), interactive 3D "Body Browser" that allows you to explore the human body in real-time 3D. Users can choose between a male or female body to examine by panning the model up/down and left/right, zooming in/out, and rotating the model around the Y axis. The controls include sliders that allow you to change the opacity of the multiple layers, showing and hiding different body systems easily. Users can click on any body part to see a label showing the part's name, and the option to push-pin it, to keep the label visible while you explore the rest of the body.

Google Body
Google's 3D Body Browser

Perhaps one of my favorite features is the text search, giving users the ability to quickly type in the name of a body part and instantly see that part and where it resides in the body. Search suggestions are also given, in case you can't remember how to spell zygomaticus minor and major.

3D Body Browser
Interactive 3D Human Anatomy Browser

I remember that I couldn't understand why the rest of the book wasn't like the body pages. Why wasn't there something similar for trees, cars, and fish? It didn't make any sense to me, if they had the technology to make these semi-transparent overlay pages why wasn't the entire book made out of them? Well I never got the answer to that question, but I did get the inspiration to pursue projects that require complex systems to be represented visually and interactively, thanks to Encyclopedia Britannica I guess.

Google Body Demonstration Video

The Beta version of Google Body is great, and I'm looking forward to the enhancements that Google will make to it over time. It's a great application for kids, and with access to material like this, I look forward to seeing the applications of tomorrow that they will be building. Putting this type of interactive 3D application in the hands of the public is great because it clearly demonstrates how this type of solution for visualizing and understanding a complex system is useful. If you have a complex system that requires users to understand every component of that system, and how they work together, an interactive 3D application is a great tool to use to achieve your goals.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

ACGME Program Requirements for Anesthesiology Residents Requires Simulated Clinical Experiences

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical EducationWhile other industries like aerospace, mining, and the military have been using simulation-based training for decades, health care is still in its infancy when it comes to adopting training simulators. There are dozens of great medical training simulators on the market today, many of them help save lives and money by allowing trainees to a high-level of training. Few of them are required by accreditation councils, but that might all be about to change.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Board of Directors approved the following revision to the Program Requirements for Anesthesiology at their February, 2011 meeting:
"IV.A.6 Residents must participate in at least one simulated clinical experience each year."
The Review Committee does not require that any program use a formal simulation center, however programs are encouraged to incorporate surgeons and nurses into the simulation experience. The Committee states that:
"Residents must participate in at least one yearly simulated intraoperative clinical experience that serves to improve and assess medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, systems-based practice, and/or practice-based learning and improvement."
The Committee believes that the simulation assessment tools are equally important as the training tools, in order to ensure that the participants receive meaningful assessments. Training simulators are leading the way when it comes to improving medical education, ultimately leading to higher levels of patient health and safety.

The benefits of training simulators have been proven by other industries for decades, and it stands to reason that the health care industry will benefit as well. Simulation-based training has the potential to have a huge impact on all aspects of medical training, everything from screening patients, to conducting laboratory-based training, to surgical practice. What sets simulation-based training apart from other methods of training is that it provides a safe environment for students to fail in. Trainees can learn from their mistakes that are made during a simulation session, as opposed to mistakes made in the real-world that cause patients to suffer.

RRC News, Simulation: New Revision to Anesthesiology Program Requirements