Future book: interactive illustration

Friday 25th February 2011
Interactive 3d of human brain: Dorsal view Courtesy: Ziegler et al

Under the slightly stuffy title - Ziegler et al: "Effectively incorporating selected multimedia content into medical publications," lies a future promise for e-books and interactive illustration, as scientists integrate 3D, video and audio data into PDF documents.

The scientists stress that the possibility of merging text and multimedia content into a document will promote not only promote digitisation of the medical publication system, but also that of research, teaching and inevitably impact on a wider publishing world.

Researchers at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, in collaboration with colleagues at the university hospitals of Jena and Münster, the Bundeswehrkrankenhaus Berlin and the Erlangen-based company 3D-Shape GmbH have, for the first time, embedded multimedia patient data into an electronic publication.

Dr. Alexander Ziegler of the Institut für Immungenetik of the Charité and his co-workers expect a substantial improvement of the transparency and the interdisciplinary communication of scientific 3-D, video and audio data from this new approach.

As the researchers report in the journal BMC Medicine*, this new form of medical publication offers the exciting opportunity to integrate multimedia content directly into electronic documents.

For this purpose, the scientists made full use of the advanced capabilities of the popular PDF file type, which allow the incorporation of multimedia formats such as MP3 files into a document.

The online article includes a short ultrasound video sequence of a beating human heart and an audio sequence of a patient with severe sleep apnea as well as two interactive 3-D models, that of a face and that of a human brain.

The freely available Adobe Reader software from version 9 onwards, installed on millions of computers worldwide, is sufficient to activate the interactive multimedia contents.

The scientists stress that the possibility of merging text and multimedia content in a single document will promote not only the digitization of the medical publication system, but also that of research and teaching.

"There is an enormous potential for this approach when it comes to designing teaching or lecturing materials", says  Ziegler. "The possibility to embed an interactive 3-D model of a complex biological structure into PDF documents that can be intuitively manipulated will certainly play an important role in teaching in the future."

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