Thursday, June 16, 2011

What you can do with a browser? A lot!

Do you have a fairly modern computer, and a fairly modern browser?  Visit this website about the human anatomy. (Chrome or Firefox works.)

You might need a fast Internet connection in addition to a fast computer. What you see is a 3D representation of the human body. You can toggle bones, digestive organs, etc. All in the browser! Without installing any special software. The 3D rendering is happening on your graphics card, so you better have some decent graphics card, or it will look like a slow slideshow. The image below shows roughly what it looks like: a full human skeleton which you can move about and examine closely.

This is very impressive: the 3D model can be manipulated, zoomed through, and moved effortlessly on my humble computer. It loads up just fine on a Chromebook I have lying around too. A few years ago, something like this was unthinkable inside a browser. Many industry pundits spoke of how you just couldn't do task X inside a browser. Most often it was image manipulation, but then it graduated to 3D objects.

Well folks, it is possible now! Computers, networks, and the platforms are fast enough to allow the entire browser to fetch the model of the human body from the Internet, process it fast enough, render it and then allow real-time exploration of the model.

Web browsers are the next platform. Think of a software firm writing this anatomy exploration program, and looking for customers. They'll have a tough job trying to reach a market where people are required to download/install the software. It might only work on certain versions of Windows. No Mac, and who cares about Linux. On the other hand, if they target the Internet, their software works automatically on all new computers. Also, their customers don't need to care about upgrading, or having the latest data. It always has the latest data.

The original motivation for this post was to find out what you can do with a Chrome OS computer in my previous post. I wrote that you can't play first person shooters in a browser yet. But I suspect that won't be the case for too long.