The recent and rapid developments of immersive, interactive 3D environments have been critical in advancing interfaces for entertainment, design, and education. For cardiovascular research, our laboratory and others have been able to use such software tools for the construction of heart models from DICOM files. These models can then be printed in hard or soft plastic from a 3D printer. In general, such models are considered useful for surgical planning and education; these modalities are being applied as critical tools in the field of cardiovascular research.
Recently, the development of virtual reality (VR) has introduced a new modality for exploring 3D virtual structures with high resolution, high flexibility, and fast turn-around times. Until recently, the adoption of these technologies has been hindered by the high costs of VR goggles and the complexities in their setup. New developments in phone software and hardware, however, have alleviated some of these difficulties by allowing smartphone screens, graphics units, and gyroscopes to provide the necessary technologies for VR. In this way, phones can be placed inside a headset holder and used freely, without being connected to the computer.
Here we explore the utility of using this VR setup in the context of internal heart anatomy visualization.