The Tech Museum of Innovation will open a new exhibition, Body Worlds Decoded, on Sunday, Oct. 15. This experience will use augmented reality (AR) and other emerging tech to put a Silicon Valley spin on Body Worlds, the display of plastinated human bodies that has been seen by sellout crowds worldwide. The Tech will also debut Iris, its custom AR system that allows visitors to examine organs and body systems through immersive graphics.
“Body Worlds Decoded is an experience like no other, and it is only fitting that this blending of nature and technology should be celebrated in Silicon Valley,” said John Doerr, the chairman of Kleiner Perkins who with his wife Ann is contributing $5 million to The Tech to make the exhibit possible. “Ann and I are thrilled to help bring this experience to life, and it is our dream that it will inspire youth and contribute to a greater understanding of the life sciences.”
In partnership with the Institute for the Future, The Tech created the Iris AR system, which allows visitors to view and interact with 3D models and virtual objects including a heart, eyeball, digestive tract and skull. Iris uses ARtifactor — content authoring and management software developed by IFTF — and runs on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, a Google Tango-enabled mobile device. The Tech will add new 3D models, animations and other content to the 5,000-square-foot exhibition, so visitors will always have something new to discover.
“This is the future of museums — AR is about to transform how we interpret our world and how we approach education,” said Toshi Anders Hoo, lead AR consultant and director of the Institute for the Future’s Emerging Media Lab. “The Tech has emerged as a leader in the exciting AR movement, offering a whole new world of immersive technology that will influence museums and exhibitions globally.”
The Tech aims for Body Worlds Decoded to become Northern California’s premiere public anatomy lab as well as an AR testbed. Teachers and professors will be able to take biology lessons out of the classroom, and doctors can recommend a visit for patient education. The AR industry will also be invited to use the exhibition to prototype advances in software and hardware with the community.
“Body Worlds Decoded is one of the most ambitious and exciting anatomy experiences ever created,” said Tim Ritchie, president and CEO of The Tech Museum of Innovation. “The human body contains so many mysteries, and the implementation of AR and all of its capabilities stands to provide valuable clues in unlocking those secrets and inspiring the next generation of advances in medicine and physiology.”
In Body Worlds Decoded, displays of real human bodies — eight full-body plastinates and more than 60 individual specimens — will help visitors explore the smallest organs to the most complex systems, including nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary, reproductive, digestive and locomotive. They can participate in live demonstrations of Anatomage, a 3D virtual dissection used at the nation’s top medical schools. Body Worlds Decoded also explores the artistic side of anatomy with installations of art inspired by the wonder and mystery of the human body. Pieces by local artist Lauren A. Toomer will be displayed, and visitors will be invited to create their own artwork.
“The human form has intrigued artists throughout history,” said Lisa Incatasciato, Exhibit Content Developer at The Tech. “Despite technology giving us a more accurate look, there’s still something mysterious and inspiring about creating your own visual interpretation of the body. You don’t have to love anatomy to enjoy this exhibit, but we bet you’ll appreciate it before you leave.”
Body Worlds Decoded opens Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017, and is set for an unprecedented 10-year run at The Tech. The bodies and specimens were preserved by Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ Institute for Plastination, which created BODY WORLDS exhibitions to help people better understand the human body and its functions.