Fisk University Creates a Virtual Human Cadaver Lab Using the ENGAGE Social VR Platform

Fisk University, a private, historically Black university located in Nashville, Tennessee, will launch a virtual human cadaver lab for its pre-med and biology students this fall. The cadaver laboratory will use the social VR platform ENGAGE, in a partnership with Fisk University, HTC VIVE, T-Mobile, and VictoryXR (an educational content creator company using ENGAGE as a platform).

According to the official news release:

Inside the lab, students will examine the internal organs of various human systems, and the professor can even remove the organs from the body and pass them around for students to hold and open. Students will have the ability to enlarge the organ to a size large enough where they can even step inside to better learn how it works. In addition to organ systems, the cadavers will also include complete skeletal and muscle structures.

“With this cadaver lab, our pre-med students will no longer need to rely on other universities for advanced anatomy and biology classes,” said Dr. Shirley Brown, Dean of Fisk University. “Virtual reality technology takes our university to a level equal to the most advanced schools in the country.”

In the past, Fisk University has not purchased cadavers due to the high cost and maintenance. But with a virtual cadaver lab, the university can offer state-of-the-art scientific learning that’s affordable and easy to maintain. Virtual cadavers do not degrade, and over time additional specialties can be added to the software such as surgical procedures, comparative learning between human and animal as well as microbiology at the cellular level.

Here’s a two-minute promotional video for the project:

Tony Vitillo (a.k.a. SkarredGhost), an Italian man whose blog, The Ghost Howls, often has reviews of products and interesting news reports about the VR industry, paid a visit to the virtual laboratory and reported:

The…costs to own a cadaver lab is in the order of magnitude of millions of dollars. Not all universities can afford that. There is at the moment a slightly better alternative, that is using ultra-realistic synthetic cadavers, that are also able to simulate some motions of the human body (e.g. the heart pumping), but the cost of each one of them is $60-100,000. This means that to own them a university must invest much money anyway.

We all know that virtual reality can replicate real objects pretty well, so VictoryXR had the idea of trying to reproduce a cadaver lab in virtual reality: apart from the fixed cost for the 3D elements, this laboratory would scale pretty well with the number of students and would need almost no maintenance cost. This is a very smart solution to make education more accessible for medicine students. Thanks to this, many more universities would be able to afford to have a virtual cadaver lab, even in non-wealthy countries. We always talk about VR being able to democratize education, and this is one bright example of how it can do that.

Students assemble a skeleton puzzle in Fisk University’s virtual human cadaver lab

Tony came away from his brief demo favourably impressed:

I had just a short demo with the virtual lab, and I think that it is a good start for Fisk University and VictoryXR. I don’t think that at the moment it can replace the real experience with a cadaver because you miss all the tactile sensations, the weight, and also the creep of having a real organ in your hands. But it can be a good substitute to start learning about the human body, to observe the organs in detail, to start getting confidence with having a bone or a part of the body of someone else in your hands. It could be able to offer a good course, and after that, maybe the students can have just a few final lessons with real corpses in another location. It is a good way of giving value to many medicine universities not only in the U.S. but in the whole world, especially the ones that can’t afford to have real or synthetic cadavers for tests.

What impressed me the most is the potential that this solution can have in the future. There are things that VR can give to students that are hardly possible in real life. The fact that you can enter with your teacher inside an organ and examine it both at macro and micro level is one amazing thing for instance. The possibility of organizing minigames (like the puzzle) that are engaging and improve the learning efficiency via interactivity is something that VR enables and that would be too creepy to do in real life. The possibility of doing many simulated surgeries on the cadavers with the possibility of repeating every operation at no additional cost is another cool thing. 

Studying the muscles of the human body in ENGAGE

Thanks to Chris Madsen/DeepRifter of ENGAGE for the heads up, and Tony Vitillo/SkarredGhost for his report and pictures! You can read Tony’s review in full here, and I strongly recommend you follow his blog as well as my own!

Sinespace Creator Spotlight: Anatomy (Turning Vanity Fair into a Sinespace Fashion Model!)

Yes, Vanity Fair is also in Sinespace! This is her default, “before” look.She is wearing the Tiredi dress by ELL (10 different colours, only 99 Gold each colour), plus Misty ballet slippers by BlakOpal Designs (5 different colours, also 99 Gold each). The golden Crescent Hoop Earrings are also by BlakOpal Designs, and they are only 39 Gold.

Not bad, but I wanted to see if I could make her look more like a fashion model today—really pull out all the stops!

Luckily, I was able to find a brand new content creator in Sinespace, named Gaby, whose brand is called Anatomy (website), that sells six different kinds of female mesh bodies: Classic and Curvy, both of which comes in three different bust shape options: classic, perky, and push-up:

The two types of Anatomy bodies: Curvy and Classic
The three bust types of the Anatomy bodies: Classic, Perky, Push-Up
All told, there are six different Anatomy bodies

So, I bought the Curvy body with a Classic bust (499 Gold), the Emma head shape (699 Gold), and the Emma skin in vanilla (649 Gold), all from Anatomy. I also replaced Vanity’s hairstyle with the Dream Glory hair in brown by Newsea (only 99 Gold).

The vendor recommends that before (or after) you wear any of these new bodies, that you reset the body sliders so you get a clean canvas to start with your new body shape. To do this, just go to the avatar editor (click on the Outfit button), then click on the  Body section and click on the Reset button up top:

Here is what Vanity Fair looks like after her complete model makeover! All I kept from her Before look were the dress and shoes. I kept all the default face and body slider settings after the above reset, only making her bust slightly larger and her hands smaller (for some reason, the default Sinespace avatars all have huge hands!).

The following poses are part of a single animated gesture you can buy on the Sinespace Shop, called Ladies Fashion Poses Gesture by De Landria Creations (only 75 Gold). It slowly and smoothly moves the avatar through a number of different model poses, allowing you time to take pictures. Here are just three of the poses included:

Looking good! Tools like this pose set are going to prove popular among the growing number of fashion bloggers in Sinespace, and I am very glad to see them make an appearance! Hopefully we will be getting more fashion bloggers in Sinespace to showcase the amazing work that so many talented designers are creating.

I also bought a Catwalk Linear 101 gesture from Trilo Byte Design (only 59 Gold), which is a simple model catwalk runway animation: walk to the front of the catwalk, pause, pose, and walk back. To demonstrate it, I had Vanity model a gown I had blogged about before on the official Sinespace blog, the beautiful, flowing Allegro gown in cream, created by BlakOpal Designs. This garment, which comes in 10 different colours, actually has full in-world cloth physics enabled!

Below is short promotional video from the creators, BlakOpal Designs, showing just how naturally this garment moves with the wearer (and it even includes a very useful tip on how to fix the skirt, if it should snag somewhere on your avatar).

Each individual colour of the Allegro gown is 199 Gold each, and you can buy the complete bundle of ten different colours for only 1,399 Gold.

So, Vanity Fair is finally a full-fledged model in Sinespace! Expect more reports on the ever-growing fashion market in Sinespace, for both male and female avatars.


This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here).