Inspired by my own athletic career as a springboard diver, learning about the muscular system has helped improve my performance and prevent injury. It can be difficult to understand something you cannot see. MusculAR takes anatomy diagrams off the textbook page and instead applies it to a real world context, allowing the user to see it directly on a person's body. Users can learn the names of different muscles and even see which muscles are used during specific fitness exercises.
What it does
MusculAR reveals the muscles beneath the skin by overlaying an anatomically correct 3D model of the superficial muscular system. Users can select two different modes in MusculAR. "Anatomy mode" shows a colorful diagram of the muscular system where each muscle is labeled. "Exercise mode" highlights which muscles when a user physically tries a specific movement.
How we built it
This world lens was made possible through the incredible open source resource called Z-Anatomy. Through this I was able to find a scientifically accurate 3D model of the human body. From here I distilled the muscular system and manipulated the model to work best in Lens Studio.
MusculAR utilizes 3D body tracking, so the muscles can move with the body in real-time. Within Lens Studio, I created behavior to trigger different effects such as highlighting the quads, gluten, hamstrings, and calves during a squat. In addition, I added UI screen elements to create a more comprehensive educational experience. The UI not only helps the user toggle the state for different features, but also provides written description for learning.
Challenges we ran into
The original 3D model was incredibly detailed, so I had to get creative in order make it a lightweight version that would run well on a smart phone. It was challenging, but super rewarding to add armature and see the body come to life. Because the muscular system has several nooks and crannies, it was important to weight paint the rigged model correctly to ensure it did not deform unnaturally when the body moved.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
I'm so excited to be able to bring MusculAR to life, as it's been an idea I've had for a while, but 3D body tracking finally made it possible!
What I learned
It is always important to me to consider the UX of AR projects. I want to make sure that users understand what they can do with a lens and how they can navigate through AR elements on top of the Snap interface.
What's next for MusculAR
This is just the beginning for MusculAR! It is a strong proof of concept that with good body tracking, the experience of learning anatomy can be fun and contextual. I'd love to conduct user research to learn what other ways the user might like to interact with a model of the muscular system, and I'd like to expand the exercise library to include even more kinds of movements. My hope is that MusculAR can be an educational tool for students, medical professionals, athletes, or anyone curious about the human body!
Please consider this for both the Education and the Fitness & Wellness categories. Thank you!