Virtual reality (VR) is still in its infancy, but this long-promised, never-previously quite-achieved technology took its first tentative steps into the real world recently, with the official launch of the Oculus Rift headset/VR system. Content suitable for the entertainment or edification of the general public is still largely lacking, but the technology promises to continue the transformation begun by the use of 3D animation — and few industries stand to benefit more than medicine.
3D medical animations comprise relatively familiar and widespread technology made possible by advances in computing. These 3D animations, ordinarily presented in 2D format, represent the natural evolution of science visualization and medical simulation from simple hand-drawn illustrations; to medical animation videos; to fully rendered, computer-enabled 3D medical and/or surgery animations. In some instances, 3D medical animation is being adapted for use in VR environments, further enhancing the utility of this remarkably beneficial technology.