By Wendy Sarubbi | August 6, 2012 4:09 pm

Dr. Juan Cendan, the College of Medicine’s assistant dean for simulation, placed the flat image of a skull on the table and pointed his smartphone at the likeness.  Without uttering so much as an “abracadabra,” he created a 3D depiction of the cranium on his phone’s screen out of the static image.

Although the demonstration appeared magical, it is rooted in the real-world technology of a software program called Aurasma that Dr. Cendan hopes will enhance learning for students at the medical school.

“It goes beyond the wow factor,” Dr. Cendan said. “This app could help students understand new concepts.”

Marketing and advertising campaigns have used Aurasma to bring their products to life. But Dr. Cendan said he would like to introduce the app to first-year students during their 17 weeks of anatomy lab.  Because the app works with Androids, iPhones and iPads, students could point their devices at specific regions of a cadaver to see a 3D image of the respiratory system or the veins and arteries around the heart. Dr. Cendan is working with Dr. David Metcalf at UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training to create a database of images that would be specific to each student’s cadaver.

At the Simulation for Healthcare Education Learning Laboratory (SHELL), Dr. Metcalf and his team are honing a process to convert a cadaver’s Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) file, a special format that aids in viewing medical images, into images that can be used on smart devices.

It works this way: A user tags an object with an aura – a specific video or image. When the user’s smart device is pointed at the object, the Aurasma software recognizes the object, then plays the video or inserts the image. Aurasma comes with a database of about a half-million images, but users also can build their own databases.

Micheal Eakins, a 3D animation associate at SHELL, demonstrated the technology. He pointed his smart phone at a medical education poster about breast cancer and double-tapped the screen, triggering a video about conducting a self-breast exam.

Creating images that can be used by medical students is a “rapid but still evolving process,” said Micheal. “The most important thing is that the image is medically accurate.”

Dr. Cendan said the College of Medicine’s use of Aurasma is the first time this app has been used in medical education. This app allows you to see technology in places you wouldn’t ordinarily see it.”

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