When designing Flex AR we wanted to explore ways of teaching the more kinetic nature of anatomy. For our research we focus on demonstrating the flexion and extension of various muscle groups as the result of moving a physical skeletal model. In addition we wanted to explore the different AR interface styles to see how they support different learning styles. The styles we explored were wearable, tablet, and computer. Users of our prototype manipulate a physical skeletal model affixed with augmented reality (AR) targets.
An AR-enabled device records this interaction and projects a digital 3D model consisting of the bones and major muscles of the arm over the physical model. Users are then able to examine both gross anatomy as well as muscle flexion and extension. The user can also interact through a graphical user interface to highlight and display additional information on individual muscles. Flex-AR was built using the Unity game engine with Qualcomm’s Vuforia plugin, a mobile AR library, to handle the capturing and tracking of our augmented reality targets. For FlexAR, we use 4 targets: 1 to determine the basic position of the arm and the others to control the rotation of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints of the 3D model. The assets for the 3D overlay were developed in Maya using our physical arm model and Gray’s Anatomy [Gray, 1974] as reference. To enhance immersion, the physical and digital models had to align as closely as possible in appearance and be anatomically correct.