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Tuesday, 25 May, 1999, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Virtual doctor trains patients in 3D
health 3D website 300
The website helps women check their own health
The latest 3D web technology is being used to allow women to look out for problems such as osteoporosis, heart disease and breast lumps.

US-based Superscape have produced a 3D virtual reality browser which allows visitors to their site to watch, or even interact with informative presentations - viewing them from any angle.

But the company has stressed that its technology cannot do away with the trip to a GP or specialist.

Speaking to the BBC, Superscape's Ben Green said: "I don't think there is any threat of us at any point in the future getting a system that can replace the years and years of training that a doctor undergoes."

Personal details taken

The sections of the site devoted to heart disease and osteoporosis allow the visitor to enter personal health details - then see a 3D representation of the results, whether good or bad.

So a smoker who admits to having a poor diet and taking little exercise might see a heart artery pumping slowly because it is clogged with fatty deposits.

And someone who does not drink enough milk, or a young person who diets too much, might be depicted as a stooping figure because of the effects of osteoporosis.

breast scan 150
The website will not stop women consulting doctors
The site aims to teach women how to carry out their own breast examinations, allowing viewing to take place from any angle.

Ben Green said: "The information we are conveying is already available to the general public through leaflets - this provides the ability for concerned people to check out some of the basics, and if they're still concerned after that, to go and see a doctor."

He is hopeful that the technology could eventually be used in hospitals to guide patients through exactly what is going to happen during their operation, and perhaps even to help train medical students.

Virtual reality has already been used to help doctors learn the skills of brain surgery by offering a 3D image of a patient's head which can be operated on with a "software scalpel".

Superscape are well known for their innovative 3D virtual reality software - in the past, they have produced 3D shopping malls, a virtual medieval garden and even a virtual graveyard.

Visitors to the site will have to download the browser and should be running at least a 133 MHz Pentium processor.

Superscape's Ben Green demonstrates the system on BBC Breakfast News
See also:

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