by Gary Rainville

[Editor’s note: Nearly three dozen companies participated in the Emerging Companies Summit, held during NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in May. Below is one in a series of company profiles showcasing how startups are innovating with GPU technology.]

As Google Earth explores the planet’s highways and byways, so BioDigital’s latest offering, the BioDigital Human, navigates the inner workings of the human body in fine, full-color 3D detail.

When trying to understand a new diagnosis or treatment, most turn to text-based, densely worded medical reference tools. To the untrained, it can be a baffling experience.

BioDigital Human features showcased at Emerging Companies Summit.
The BioDigital Human website showcases
annotated body systems in fine 3D detail

The BioDigital Human website is a game-changer because it allows people to explore anatomy, diseases and treatments via a very detailed model of the organs and systems that make up the human body. Enabled by NVIDIA GPUs, the visual nature of BioDigital’s platform makes the body and its conditions easier to understand as it brings the body to life in 3D.

Frank Sculli, cofounder and head of information systems at New York-based BioDigital, noted that a CPU-based system alone could show, for example, “just the muscles of the arm. But now [with GPUs] we have the entire body running in a browser with over 5,000 3D objects.”

Because the system uses 3D and is available globally on the web, the proliferation of graphics cards has been hugely important to how the BioDigital Human is able to process information and the richness of the content it delivers.

Thanks to the processing power of GPUs, the BioDigital Human allows viewers to see the body’s systems working together simultaneously in real time, with high resolution for a realistic effect. You can see the heart pumping, the lungs expanding and contracting, and the diaphragm moving up and down as a cohesive unit.

Health professionals of all stripes find the system useful: physicians, medical students, nurses, dentists, physical therapists – anyone who wants to use the body as a reference tool to better communicate health topics.

A pro version of the platform allows users to annotate body systems particular to their areas of practice. For example, chiropractors and massage therapists use the platform to create patient-specific profiles that map and record an individual’s history of problems, treatment, and progress.

The BioDigital Human is already being used to demonstrate full procedures, such as breast reconstruction surgery, and as an atlas for doctors around the world to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries. In the future, the company plans to continue building out all the conditions of the body and have them work together. So, you’ll be able to activate an aspect of one system, say heart disease, and literally see how it might affect other systems.

It’s this kind of innovation, and the large market opportunity their technology addresses, that earned BioDigital a “One to Watch” award — along with $20,000 in prizes — at the recent Emerging Companies Summit (ECS).

Download and watch the BioDigital presentation at ECS last May at GTC On-Demand.