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HOME > No.16, Feb 2019 > A Body Odyssey

A Body Odyssey

Virtual-reality experience for learning digestive organs

The "Augmented Human 2017" international conference at Silicon Valley, Best Demo Award

By Satoshi Fujisawa
Satoshi Fujisawa
Fujisawa (2nd from left) and his co-winners

A research team led by Satoshi Fujisawa, a graduate student of Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a system for experiencing a virtual trip in human digestive organs as a food by user’s crawling. The system contributes to enhancing learning and understanding on mechanisms of digestive organs because users have fun to experience the system as they are transformed to a food.

This system was presented in an international conference Augmented Human 2017 at Silicon Valley, CA, USA, 16th – 18th March 2017, and awarded "Best Demo Award."

Motivation for this research, struggles in research, and impressions after receiving the award

Satoshi Fujisawa wanted to develop an intuitive and enjoyable learning system to teach about health and physical education. His motivation for this came from his sense of regret that he had not been so interested in these topics during his school days. Since there were no previous studies relating to this field or to similar virtual-reality systems, the development was a gruelling process of trial and error. During their demonstration at the Augmented Human 2017 conference for example, the team experienced hardware trouble, which limited the effectiveness of their presentation. Naturally then, his team members were very surprised to hear that they had won the award for best demo.

Fig.1 Demonstration in AH2017 (Left), and Award’s certificates (Right).

Details of the research

Children study physical structure and the mechanisms of the human body using text books and anatomical body models as a part of Science or Health and physical education in elementary school and junior high school. However, these subjects are not interesting for children. Thus, Satoshi wanted to make a virtual-reality (VR) system to allow people to experience the inner body by themselves so that they can learn about digestive organs enjoyably.

Fig.2 Images of esophagus (left) and duodenum (right).

The narrative of the developed VR experience is the journey of food, which becomes an avatar of the user. The food is eaten by a person, and travels through several digestive organs while getting digested. The food is digested gradually and the internal images of digestive organs are presented with 3-D information on a head-mounted Display (HMD), and users can look around them. Six digestive organs (esophagus, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, large intestine, rectum) were created in details based on text books, and specific movements of each organ were implemented. Users moved in the VR inner body by crawling, that was detected by pressure sensors on a soft matt. Four vibrators presented tactile sensations for improving the perception of self-motion. Headphones created 3-D sounds to accompany the movements of the digestive organs and heart beats.

Participants who experienced the system and said, ‘I enjoyed the sense of movement through the inner body’, ‘I became interested in the structure of the body’ and ‘I want to try other internal organs’. Thus, it is suggested that the VR system could contribute to enhancing scientific interest in the inner body and improving science learning.

Fig.3 Schematic structure of the developed VR system.


Satoshi, the team leader said, "I would like to create more VR systems, and provide novel and unimaginable experiences to many people."


Fujisawa, S., Hamada, T., Kondo, R., Okamoto, R., and Kitazaki, M. (2017). A body odyssey: exploring the human body as digested food. The 8th Augmented Human International Conference (AH '17), Silicon Valley, CA, USA, March 16-18 2017. [Best demo award] Proceedings of the 8th Augmented Human International Conference (AH '17), Article 39.
Youtube video demonstration:



国際会議Augmented Human(拡張人間会議) 2017, Best Demo Award受賞

By 藤澤 覚司


本研究の成果を、2017年3月16日から18日までアメリカのシリコンバレーで開催された国際会議Augmented Human 2017(拡張人間会議)においてデモ展示し、Best Demo Awardを受賞しました。




学校教育では、教科書や人体模型をつかって理科や保健体育として人体の仕組みを学びます。しかし、それは子ども達にとってあまり面白い単元ではありません。そこで、バーチャルリアリティ(Virtual Reality;以下VR)を用いて、自分で身体内部を体験して、楽しく消化器を学習できる作品を作りたいと思いました。





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Student Profile

Satoshi Fujisawa
Name Satoshi Fujisawa
Affiliation Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Title Master course student (2nd grade)
Fields of Research Perceptual Psychology /
Cognitive Neuroscience / Virtual Reality