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


Holograms you can feel and touch

Haptic Holography was perhaps, first proposed by workers at MIT in the 80s. The Media Lab, headed up by Dr. Stephen Benton, with published papers by Wendy Plesiak and Ravi Pappuh.

Recent developments in both the technology of digital holography and haptics have made it practical to conduct further investigations. Haptic holography is auto-stereoscopic and provides co-axial viewing for the user. Most existing haptic simulations are displayed on 2D computer screens. The user has difficulty navigating the 3D haptic environment due to uncertain spatial relationships. The holographic environment allows the user to grasp the spatial relationship of the haptic space.

Haptic holography may find application in medical & surgical training and as a new form of synthetic reality for artists and designers.

Michael Page, who is the Principal Investigator on the project. Michael has more than 30 years experience in holography, more than 20 years in digital holography. He is a Professor with the Faculty of Fine Art at OCAD U and a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Optical Sciences at the University of Toronto.


Image of Haptic Holography
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 6:45pm
Lab Member: 
Michael Page


Digital Holography is at the top of 3-D visualization techniques because it is auto-stereoscopic and does not require a computer to view. It also contains many of the visual cues to the brain that we receive when viewing real-world objects and scenes.

Data visualization has often been limited to 2-D imagery even though the original data is obtained three-dimensionally. DECI (Dynamic Electrical Cortical Imaging) uses EEG data sets to create a dimensional visualization constructed from nodes that localize brain activity. In particular, responses to stimuli. Recordings have been made with subjects listening to music, meditating and sleeping.

Our research will attempt to explain the methods, flow and experiments used to formulate a holographic printing process.

Challenges to overcome include:

(1) creating a brain model in a commercially standard 3-D format, 

(2) integrate this model into a standardized hologram printing format, and

(3) creating a blueprint of an experimental software to facilitate this workflow today and in the future. 


We set out to data sets recorded by Dr. Doidge and his team could be accurately translated into camera ready artwork for two distinct types of holographic printers. One from the PHASE Research Group and a commercial  service bureau, STM Holographic.

These holograms not only represent the data in 3-D, they also relay time-based data, changes in electrical activity in the brain over time.


In collaboration with Mark Diodge, a scientist in the field of brain imaging at Cerebral Diagnostics Canada Inc., the PHASE research group is developing an interface to bring these compelling images into the medium of digital holography.

Digital Holography - Brian Hologram Banner
Monday, January 26, 2015 - 6:30pm
Lab Member: 
Michael Page