The virtual dissection table: Jack Choi at TED2012

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Photo: James Duncan Davidson

As it happens, the majority of anatomy classes don’t actually have access to dead bodies. This stark, somewhat gruesome topic is the focus of the next talk in The Lab, where Jack Choi is demonstrating a virtual dissection table developed to help students learn about anatomy and dissection without the need to get wrist-deep in actual blood and guts.

Using his finger as a scalpel, and using the pinch-and-zoom motion familiar to anyone with a smartphone, Choi takes us on a whistlestop tour through the body on his virtual table, neatly beheading the corpse before cavalierly plunging into its virtual heart and lungs. There’s also an X-ray view, reflecting the rather sad reality that most doctors these days “meet their patient in x-ray form.” At one point, Choi makes a mistake in the demo. “You don’t want to hear ‘oops’ in real surgery. Fortunately, ours has the command ‘Undo,'” he says, to big laughter from the crowd.