In the past, we’ve written about the powerful (and potentially embarrassing) accuracy of Microsoft Kinect, but one thing the Kinect couldn’t offer via its 3-D technology was a peep inside your own skin. Now a French medical imaging researcher has married the Kinect with images of the human body–organs, bones, and all–to create a “digital mirror” that reflects a real-time version of your innards.
Xavier Maître, who works at the University of Paris-South, first created this 3-D digital mirror by asking participants to submit to a series of scans: an MRI, an X-ray, and a PET scan. After, participants were asked to step in front of a 65-inch digital mirror, equipped with Microsoft Kinect’s motion-capture camera. A composite image built from the scans projected on the screen, while Kinect animated the image in sync with the movements of the body.
“When you’re a child and you discover your own image in front of the mirror, you don’t know it’s you,” Maître tells New Scientist. In experimental trials testing out the mirror, he found participants reacted similarly to their reflected innards. “It’s as if you’re inside your body. You’re discovering something that belongs to you.” About one-third of the participants in the original study said they felt weird looking at their own bodies in this inside-out way, and didn’t want others to see. It’s a whole new kind of naked.
Maître then installed the digital mirror at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris a few months ago. He created a museum-friendly version using pre-scanned images, one of a man and one of a woman, to stand in for the museum goers’ own interior anatomy. When participants walked in front of the mirror, a gender-detecting algorithm chose which image to project. The visualization was an illusion–so if you have, say, a metal screw in your hip from an operation, it wouldn’t show up–but it still allowed for the intriguing and rare experience of seeing what appears to be you, only with skin stripped away.
The digital mirror will be on view starting April 26 at the Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Toronto, Canada.
[h/t New Scientist]