[Nuxeo Case Study] Online Library of Skulls by eHuman
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Jim Terhorst, Director of Software Development at eHuman, Inc., about their use of Nuxeo technologies. He told me that “we've made a commitment to your product that is strategic to our company. That's why I'm happy to take the time to talk to you."
eHuman is building the world’s first integrated, research-grade anatomy imaging library for consumer and professional use. eHuman plans to revolutionize medical education using cutting edge interactive media combined with domain expertise from leading universities. Development is ongoing in collaboration with Stanford University, the Smithsonian Institute, the Max-Planck Institute and other leading public and private entities around the world.
Tell me about your project.
Our company has a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to take 100 skulls owned by the Smithsonian Institute and build different visualizations of them, such as CT scan, sliced data, and interactive 3D. We'll build an online library of visualizations of these skulls, with annotations and metadata. The metadata is key in this project, because it effectively enables search. For example, a researcher may want to search for skulls from 25-35 year old males with a particular anatomical anomaly or pathology – the metadata attached to the skull visualizations make this possible.
Researchers fly to Washington, D.C., to look at the Smithsonian library of skulls. The skulls get handled so much that they eventually break down. Our online library will give wider, easier access to this material. In addition, I am building an infrastructure for our company moving forward. We plan to create a huge digital library of anatomy.
What type of solution were you looking for?
All of our company's digital assets were on hard drives or on network directories. We had versioning problems, access problems, and time-consuming searches. The vision for the company was to become an online human anatomy reference. To do this, we need to manage large volumes of data, and build reusable components for display. For example, if I use a certain component to visualize a knee, I want to use same component to visualize a toe. My background is in interactive 3D graphics and visualization technologies, and I was hired to manage this project. We discovered that the 3D graphics part is smaller than the asset management part of this project. The value of this company comes from its assets, and they need to be managed effectively.
What solution were you previously using?
Our previous solution was a home-grown solution developed with java script, applets, and html. Data sets were in many different places and there was no central, documented repository. We needed a solution that allows for growth and scalability.
What were the initial selection criteria?
- J2EE and Java application server technology (no PHP)
- Open source – I didn't want to tie myself into a huge black box. I want access to the internals of the code in case something goes wrong.
- Ability to easily attach metadata to our media assets
- Ability to easily extend whatever system we use
Why did you choose the Nuxeo Enterprise Platform to build your application?
Nuxeo EP is Java application server-based, open source, and offers the extensibility we were looking for. We've already benefited from the fact that Nuxeo EP is open source, because the access to source code helps us understand where we want to go, and we have examples.
Nuxeo Studio was a big factor in our decision. It allowed us to get off the ground quickly.
WebEngine is the power of your product from my perspective. That's why I chose Nuxeo. WebEngine allows us to easily build front ends to access content, without necessarily involving a programmer.
Any final thoughts?
It's a great product. I'm very satisfied.
Category: Nuxeo Updates