Virtual Orthopedics

Got bad joints? So do most computer models of the human body, because they neglect nuances of anatomy and physics. That can make animated characters look fake – or worse, make virtual surgeries and digital crash-test dummies inaccurate. Now computer scientists have developed software that more realistically simulates the complex movements of human joints. Victor Ng-Thow-Hing at Honda Research Institute USA in Mountain View, CA, and New York University’s Wei Shao model the human shoulder, for instance, as four separate joints instead of just one. Specify the geometry of the upper arm, collarbone, scapula, and rib cage, and the computer does the math to figure out how they all interact when, say, a virtual athlete throws a ball. A graphical interface lets animators and other users add layers of complexity to each joint to produce more detailed behaviors, such as bones slipping with respect to each other. Video game developers have expressed interest, says Ng-Thow-Hing, but biomedical applications are still a few years away.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from undefined

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.