Visualization of Complex Medical Data Using Next-Generation Holographic Techniques

PHASE Labs intends to make medical imaging more accurate and accessible by developing a  viewing/work station that translates 3D medical data into holographic form for printing, at a vastly reduced cost.

PHASE Labs will accomplish this goal by:

  • Developing techniques and processes for printing 3D scan data in digital holographic form
  • Creating a software application that allows the user to compose the MRI data in standard compositions, preview what the final hologram will look like and send the data, via a secure server to corporate partners for printing


Medical professionals currently rely on 2D viewing methods to interpret medical information gathered from 3D scans of data. Unfortunately, this system results in a loss of spatial information. Anatomical information could be better represented for purposes of analysis, diagnostics, forensics, and healthcare records if medical professionals were provided with another dimension of information to work with. This could be achieved through holographic technology, which would allow 3D medical data to be viewed in 3D.

While the technology to create medical holograms exists, it is rarely used due to high cost and inconvenience. PHASE Lab proposes to create a software application that will readily, accessibly, and affordably create print-ready holographic medical images from MRI scanners and other 3D imaging devices. These images will be sent directly and securely to PHASE Lab’s industry partner for printing, eliminating the need for time-consuming rendering and image processing.

Current research in field of medical holography is focused on using data sets derived from anatomical data banks created by artists and designers instead of medical visualization experts. Holograms created from this data are only a representation of human anatomy as a visualization. In contrast, PHASE Labs intends to make holograms of actual human anatomy by using 3D medical data obtained by medical professionals.

PHASE Lab’s software application will included a file format definition and a network communications protocol data viewing software. It will permit the user (a medical professional anywhere on the globe) to compose 3D data sets (for example, from an MRI scan) and preview a detailed holographic simulation. When ready, the print ready data will be transmitted, via a secure server, to PHASE Labs corporate partner's site for printing. The resulting holographic output may then be shipped out to the end user on the same day it is submitted.

When used for diagnosis, this new output for data may well provide additional information about the subject that cannot be understood by viewing it in 2D. In addition to improving the experience of medical professionals this project has the potential to make patients more familiar with their own medical data, as a 3D visualization is more intuitively intelligible than a 2D representation. Next-generation digital holography will change how medical workers look at certain complex 3D data, and the knowledge base gleaned from this new research, can help develop other pipelines to other imaging modalities from the art & design, architecture and gaming industries.

View related Phase Lab projects here: 
Responsive Brain Holograms
The Haptic Holography Project



Image of a holograph of live brain scan, showing different active regions of the brain in red, green, and blue
Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1:45pm
Lab Member: 
Michael Page

Design for Health Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities Image
Friday, October 28, 2016 - 6:45pm

If you are interested in getting involved in any of the health related research projects, please contact faculty. There are some paid and some volunteer opportunities. These projects are in addition to studio project opportunities and may also be an option for internships in Summer term.

SOONER - drug overdose recovery kit

With St Mike’s, Red Cross, plus others

Kate Sellen ( and Richard Hunt (

Bespoke – everyday objects for arthritis

With McMaster and other partners

Angelika Seeschaaf_Veres (

The Accessible Graphics Initiative: A Creative Design Intervention into Inaccessible Charts and Graphs

Peter Coppin (

Safefont – dynamic type for medications

Richard Hunt ( and Kate Sellen (

LivingHope – communation tool at end of life

With Saint Elizabeth Healthcare

Kate Sellen (

Flow Visualization via Amplification and Caricature

With University of Toronto

Peter Coppin (

CanIMPACT – Synthesis Mapping for Primary Care in Cancer Research CIHR/OICR 

Peter Jones (


More about Design for Health:

New Ebook Collection: Morgan & Claypool Biomedical Collection Four

Monday, October 3, 2016 - 4:00am

The Library has recently purchased a collection of biomedical ebooks from publisher Morgan & Claypool.  The titles are part of the publisher’s Synthesis series and cover a range of biomedical engineering and design topics such as assistive technologies, human factors in computing systems, and body tracking in healthcare. Titles in this series are peer reviewed and intended to synthesize important research or development topics.