User Controlled Overviews of an Image Library:
The Visible Human Explorer

Chris North*, Ben Shneiderman*^, and Catherine Plaisant

Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory,
*Department of Computer Science,
^Institute for Systems Research

University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 USA
{north, ben, plaisant}


This demonstration exhibits our Visible Human Explorer user interface (figure 1) for remote access to the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human digital image library. Users can visualize the library, browse contents, locate data of interest, and retrieve desired images. The interface presents a pair of tightly coupled views into the library data. The overview image provides a global view of the overall search space, and the preview image provides details about high resolution images available for retrieval. To explore, the user sweeps the views through the search space and receives smooth, rapid, visual feedback of contents. Desired images are automatically downloaded over the internet from the library. Library contents are indexed by meta-data consisting of automatically generated miniature visuals. The interface software is completely functional and freely available for public use on Sun workstations, at:


Browsing, Digital Library, Image Database, Information Exploration, Information Retrieval, Internet, Medical Image, Remote Access, User Interface, Visualization.


Chris North received a National Library of Medicine fellowship, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Additional funding was provided by a National Library of Medicine grant and National Science Foundation grant EEC 94-02384.


[VHE SnapShot]
Figure 1: The Visible Human Explorer user interface, showing a reconstructed coronal section overview and an axial preview image of the upper abdominal region. Dragging sliders animates the cross-sections through the body.
Click on this image for the full-size screen-shot (120K GIF).

[VHE3D SnapShot]
Figure 2: Our experimental Visible Human Volume Browser user interface prototype, showing an overview volume of the entire body and a detail volume of the heart. Arbitrary detail volumes are retrieved by manipulating a zoom box in the overview. To explore, users can push or pull each plane through the volumes in real time.
Click on this image for the full-size screen-shot (130K GIF).

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