Visible Human Explorer

The HCIL Visible Human Explorer:

Version 2.1 (Oct. 18, 1996)

Chris North, Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant
Human-Computer Interaction Lab
Computer Science Department
University of Maryland at College Park

The Visible Human Explorer (VHE) prototype is an experimental user interface for browsing the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human data set, and demonstrates a general interface for volume exploration. The interface allows users to browse a miniature Visible Human volume, locate images of interest, and automatically retrieve desired full resolution images over the internet from the NLM archive. The prototype can also browse those images which have been previously downloaded to the local machine. The VHE is a working program, and can greatly assist you in browsing and retrieving remote and local Visible Human images. The VHE can now retrieve and display Visible Human CT Scans too. VHE Help, TroubleShooting, and Hackers' Notes Page.

Click on this image to retrieve a life-size snapshot of the VHE interface (100K gif).

The VHE runs on Sun Workstations only. We currently do not have plans to port it to other machines such as PCs, Macs, SGIs, etc.

The VHE is part of our research project on User Interfaces for the Visible Human. There you can find more information about the VHE, including technical reports and videos, and about new work in progress.

Obtaining the HCIL Visible Human Explorer:

The VHE is freely available for your use. This page will assist you in downloading and running the program. We hope that the VHE will be useful for you in accessing the Visible Human. In return, we ask that you register with us and send us your comments about the interface.

Please note that this experimental prototype is NOT guaranteed to be bug-free or functional on every system.

Your System Requirements:

Useful Options:

To get it running:

  1. Create a directory to put the VHE data and executables in.
  2. Download the VHE data file into that directory. Beware: This file is approximately 12 Megs.
  3. Download the VHE executable file, corresponding to your Sun's operating system, into that directory:
  4. Uncompress the VHE data and executable files:
    % gunzip vhe_data.tar.gz
    % tar -xvf vhe_data.tar
    % rm vhe_data.tar

    If you got the SunOS executable:
    % gunzip vhe_sunos.tar.gz
    % tar -xvf vhe_sunos.tar
    % rm vhe_sunos.tar

    If you got the Solaris executable:
    % gunzip vhe_solaris.tar.gz
    % tar -xvf vhe_solaris.tar
    % rm vhe_solaris.tar

  5. Run it!
    % vhe
  6. For assistance, see the VHE Help, TroubleShooting, and Hackers' Notes Page.
    Please respond to our short User Questionare to help us build better user interfaces!

Send comments to us at:

The HCIL Visible Human Explorer gets around:

[KAPLAN] [MedGuide] [NLM-VHP] [Thomson]
[DL96] [CHI96] [ADL96] [d-lib]

Press and Appearances:


See project page for list of publications.

C. North

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