IRIS Explorer™ is a comprehensive visual programming environment for 3D data visualization, animation, and manipulation. It is a standards-based package that utilizes the Open Inventor™, ImageVision™, and OpenGL™ libraries, together with NAG's extensive numerical libraries.

IRIS Explorer's visual programming environment enables users to create customized applications by selecting from the library of "modules" (software routines) included and connecting them together, without writing any code. This point-and-click feature allows nonprogrammers to take advantage of an advanced visualization system and display complex spatial data in three-dimensions, without the need for complex programming. Users also can alter and update the application. Each module is interactively controlled by a set of dials, buttons, sliders, and file browsers, which are displayed on a control panel and can be altered while the application is running. This enables users to interactively analyze collections of data resulting from, for example, MRI and CT scanners and visualize the results for analysis, presentations, or publication.

Researchers have been using IRIS Explorer to make computerized models based on data collected from CT and MRI scanners. Projects include studies of patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, using MRI to research the development of atherosclerosis. The 3D model and fly viewer in IRIS Explorer allow researchers to move around and look for lesions on the bronchial wall and other areas of narrowing.

Similar fly-throughs have also been achieved with the aorta, and users have visualized a beating human heart. Other studies involve juvenile dermatomyositis, an inflammatory condition of the muscles, where MRI is assisting in the evaluation of abnormalities in the muscles of affected children.

IRIS Explorer also provides users with the ability to create an application directly suited to their needs by developing their own modules. These modules provide an easy way to share functionality, without the need to understand the underlying program or algorithm. IRIS Explorer gives users the flexibility to program in the language of their choice. New modules can be written to extend the functionality using a native language (C, C + +, Fortran) rather than a proprietary language. Scenes from IRIS Explorer applications can be transformed into VRML and posted on the Web, allowing nonusers to view these images. Figure 9 shows several displays using IRIS Explorer.

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