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Imagine holding a human heart in your hand, turning it around, and looking inside one of the valves. You can do this and more, thanks to the virtual-holographic design technology developed by zSpace, a Silicon Valley company based in Sunnyvale, Calif. This is not a video game or a sci-fi movie illusion. It’s the real deal (Figs. 1-2).

“Our technology is designing in virtual reality,” says David Chavez, CTO. “We took our experience in computer-human interface systems, stereo, and virtual reality to make interactive 3D design available to change product creation.

“With this technology you can get inside of an actual 3D model, play with it, and manipulate it,” Chavez adds. “You can interact with objects in a spatial and volumetric world. In the medical area, being able to physically hold and analyze volumetric data obtained from CT and MRI scans is a good example of how zSpace is used. It’s very difficult to comprehend flat 2D scans in traditional programs, however when this data is viewed in zSpace, your brain can recognize the actual solid, albeit virtual images.”  

Hottest Medtech Innovations of 2013, Fig. 1

Hottest Medtech Innovations of 2013, Fig. 2

This is invaluable for testing pre-surgical procedures and for medical training. In medical device design, virtual-holographic models are extremely valuable. “Medical device designers are taking very detailed CT scans and creating virtual models to be able to test products in this virtual plane for simulating many things including different fluid flows, insertion paths, and anomalies that they may run into,” says Chavez. “The best part is that anyone can run this on any computer system.” Demonstrations and test downloads of the program are available from the zSpace website.

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