News overview

Mixed reality becomes real at Leiden University with HoloLens app

This academic year students from Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) can study anatomical movements of their own ankle in detail, with help from a hologram in a HoloLens application called ‘Dynamic Anatomy’.

The ‘Dynamic Anatomy’ application shows how LUMC and New Media Lab from Leiden University realise new ways of teaching and learning in Leiden, that will motivate students and reduce study time.

Many students struggle to understand the working of complex joints in 3D, like the ankle. Innovators from Leiden University have built an application with the Microsoft- HoloLens that will help students studying Anatomy. The HoloLens - a computer headset worn like glasses - enables the lens carrier to see virtual objects in 3D mixed with reality: so called Mixed Reality. 

Floating leg around the room

This technology makes it possible to let a model of the human leg float around the room. Students can actively engage with the model from all corners, they can walk around it, click on parts of the leg like bone structures and are able to move the joint. This application is unique in that students can operate the ankle with their own leg and that it offers a clinical case to study. “The interaction with their own body is unique in the world” according to Anatomy teacher and co-founder of the application, Beerend Hierck (LUMC).

Encountering Reality

“This novel way of teaching has a lot of potential, since it combines several elements of which we know work well in education”, says Leontien van Melle from the Centre for Innovation. Together with filmmaker and colleague Thomas Hurkxkens, she is working on the project in the Centre’s New Media Lab. “Since students experience the case of the ankle in a functional way, this learning experience becomes very real. Also the students can learn together with feedback from the teacher and directly from the application itself.” Teacher Hierck: “The nice thing is that students immediately start to experiment and try the different features of the app. They squat, stand on their toes, walk the stairs and see what that does to the virtual ankle joint.”

Meanwhile, the innovation team builds further upon the Dynamic Anatomy concept towards more body parts and and additional functionality for better learning. While furthermore they explore other opportunities for mixed reality applications in educational settings at Leiden University and the LUMC.

Free online app

The application is now finished as a prototype and the idea is to later this year release a (free) version of the app in the Microsoft HoloLens store. The app uses the 3D model of technology partner Zygote and is developed by innovation partner Inspark. Last year, Leiden University and LUMC won the Innovation Challenge 2016/2017 of Dutch ICT organisation Surf. With a grant of 20.000 euro they developed the app, which reached the finals of the TEDXAmsterdamED, the local educational version of the popular TEDx-conferences. 

More information on the project visit the website Mixed Reality for Education. Get an impression of how the application works and looks like in this video.

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Watch the video