Google set to map a new frontier: The human body

Forget Google Earth and Google Maps, the company now has a tool for mapping the human anatomy

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Think Google Earth for the human body.

Google Earth and Google Maps have long helped people search for and map streets, towns and oceans. Now the company is looking to do the same thing on a more micro level.

On Thursday, Google launched a tool to provide users with a layered, 3D view of the human anatomy. Called Body Browser, the site explores inside the human body. The new tool, which comes after Google Earth and Google Maps have become some of the company's most popular features, uses the same pan and zoom controls as those flagship products.

Body Browser lets users identify various parts of the human body while searching for bones, organs and muscles. It also lets users rotate a 3D image of the body, peel away skin and investigate the different layers inside.

Body Browser, developed in Google Labs, won't run on all Web browsers. Users will need a browser that supports the new WebGL graphics standard. Those include Google Chrome and the latest Firefox beta.

Google's exploration of inner space succeeds its look into other hard-to-access places. In 2009, the company updated Google Earth to enable users to get a much more detailed digital look at the planet's oceans, as well as to add a 3D map of Mars.

For the Mars map, Google collaborated with NASA to get high-resolution imagery.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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