6 Virtual Tours Of The Human Body For Free Interactive Anatomy Lessons

Saikat Basu 31-12-2010

You can put your money on virtual reality and virtual worlds becoming part of our daily lives. One of its greatest impacts will be felt on education and health. You can already get hints of the value educators (and others) placed on 3D virtual tools from the success of virtual globes like Google Earth. Virtual worlds are now commonplace on things like flight simulators and massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs).


When it comes to interactive virtual views, we have gone to space and around the globe. So, it’s not surprising that we are also going within ourselves on a virtual journey of the human body. One of the finest tools available online is Visible Body. Unfortunately, it’s not free anymore. But you can see the beauty of it thanks to the free demo that allows you to explore the head and neck.

If you are disappointed that there aren’t any free interactive anatomy tools, worry not. Here are six:

Google Body

interactive anatomy

You can trust Google to take you everywhere. Google Body is as cool as any of their other visualization apps. On Google Body, you can view the underlying anatomical layers one by one using a slider, switch on labels to identity each body part, use the search box as a search engine for any body part (muscles, organs, bones etc), and what’s more, you can also share the exact scene you are viewing by copying and pasting the URL.

The Google Body browser is a Google Labs project that renders on Google Chrome and any other browser that supports WebGL (like Firefox 4 Beta). As a Lab project, it might be a bit error prone at times when rendering the views.


interactive human anatomy

The interactive website aims to educate entertain both kids and adult on bodily health; understanding the human anatomical structure is just part of the process. The Virtual Body takes you on four tours – The Human Brain, Skeleton, Human Heart, and Digestive Tract. Then there are some cool standalone tours within each.

For instance, check out the narrated tours on Virtual Body. There’s a game on the skeleton thrown in too that’s sure to make you rote up on the facts as you “˜build’ your skeleton. Also, don’t miss the animated heart section.


interactive human anatomy

eSkeletons isn’t only about understanding human anatomy. It is an interactive comparative tool that enables a student to view the bones of both human and non-human primates and to learn more about them from the site’s anatomical database. The views are powered by QuickTime and JavaScript. Selecting the human skeleton on the homepage starts the anatomical study. A mouseover on the skeleton selects a specific bone for a closer look. You can look into things like morphology and articulations. A QuickTime movie gives a 3D view of the specific skeletal part. eSkeletons is an University of Texas initiative.


interactive human anatomy comes with an interactive interface that comes with four angles of view allowing you to browse through more than 1,200 annotated anatomy images. A clickable menu on the left displays the specific body part on the right. The human body tour also gives you an insight into the physiological and pathological makeup of our bodies.

BBC Human Body and Mind

free interactive anatomy

The BBC’s webpage is a resource rich place to discover and play interactive games while learning all about the human body. The games include – Senses challenge, Organs Game, Skeleton Game, Muscle Game, and Nervous System Game. The games are superbly designed and mostly involve dropping a body part onto a human figure.

Artificial Anatomy

interactive anatomy

This one is not a fully fledged anatomical course, but a cool and short 10 question quiz on different body parts. It is a Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History resource. With a mouse rollover you have to match the thumbnail with its location on the skeletal structure named “˜Jerome’. You can also turn Jerome around for another view. “˜Jerome’ is actually a papier-mâché anatomical model preserved in the institute.

There’s no doubt that the visualization provided by these virtual tours are the quickest way to explore and learn. These browser based virtual tools aren’t just for fun’s sake but they do put the fun back into education. Let us know your take on this.

Image: Shutterstock

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  1. Joe
    January 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I installed Firefox 4 beta (on kubuntu karmic x86 32-bit) and went to Google Body. It said get a new browser. Google Chrome unstable wasn't new enough either (they did say use the beta version). The Firefox demo video that came with the install welcome page worked fine.

    • Saikat Basu
      January 8, 2011 at 3:32 am

      It works perfectly fine on Chrome. Just update yours to the latest version. It has to support the latest WebGL standard which is responsible for displaying the graphics. You are using Linux, so you can download the latest version of Chromium as mentioned in their article here.

      • Mathman47
        January 9, 2011 at 7:15 am

        Concur 100%. Don't be afraid of Chrome Beta. I've found it actually more stable than the previous "stable" release. It also uses the GPU and speeds the display of webpages. Google Body is very good and if you get bored you can make the skeleton dance!