N.Y. -- V-Frog, the world's first virtual-reality-based frog
dissection software designed for biology education -- allowing
not mere observation, but physically simulated dissection -- has
been developed and is being marketed by Tactus Technologies.
A provider of virtual reality, visualization
and simulation products and services, Tactus Technologies is a
spin-off of the University at Buffalo Virtual Reality
"Other products out there are multi-media, not
true virtual reality," explains Kevin P. Chugh, Ph.D. '01,
president and chief scientist at Tactus Technologies, based in
Getzville, a northern suburb of Buffalo.
V-Frog, which operates on a personal computer
using a standard mouse, actually simulates nearly unlimited
manipulation of specimen tissue. As a result, every dissection
is different, reflecting each student's individual work. The
software is designed for grades 7 through 12, plus advanced
placement biology students.
Using a simple mouse and PC, students can
"pick up" a scalpel, cut open V-Frog's skin, and explore the
internal organs -- with true real-time interaction and 3-D
navigation that actually accommodates discovery and procedures
not possible with a physical frog specimen.
"You can go through the entire alimentary
canal, using the endoscopic function -- something you could
never do with a real frog," says Chugh. "Likewise, with our
V-Frog, you can explore nerves and blood vessels, and look
closely at how the brain is wired. Students would never get the
opportunity to see and work with these things this way with a
Life-like V-Frog, which was in development for
three years, uniquely allows for comparative anatomy, letting
students make parallels and contrasts between the amphibian's
physiology and that of a human being, crab and other organisms.
In addition, V-Frog allows students to watch a beating heart,
observe digestion, dissect, probe and perform endoscopic
"With other products, it's just a video --
static and two-dimensional," Chugh explains. "This is a
simulation product, not simply a static Web site. It's actually
superior to physical specimens and multi-media representations.
The technology allows for virtual surgery. Our tissue simulation
lets students see the correlation between form and function, and
can be manipulated however the student wishes. It's truly a
physically simulated dissection."
The Humane Society of the United States, as
well as educators, legislators, students and others, support the
realization that the use of virtual-reality frog dissection
means no exposure to chemicals and potentially dangerous
instruments, no specimen or ecosystem harm and no specimen
"This is very much a sign of the times,"
declares Chugh, noting that at least 25 states have laws or
ordinances mandating that, if dissection is part of a school's
curriculum, students must have an alternative to dissection.
"It's a mainstream reality."
Additionally, the use of V-Frog means students
are not constrained to a lab environment. The state-of-the-art
product complies with both inquiry and life science standards.
Instructors can also model a dissection, observable by the
entire class, using a projector. This teaching and learning
experience can be conveniently repeated as often as desired.
V-Frog passed an important milestone when
California approved V-Frog for legal and social compliance as
per their State board of Education guidelines. It is also in the
final stages of a similar review in New York State.
According to Chugh, V-Frog's simulated
dissection is more economical than real dissection due to its
one-time license cost versus annual replacement of real frogs,
dissection supplies and chemicals.
Tactus Technologies received a Small Business
development grant from the Institute of Educational Services, a
division of the U.S. Dept. of Education, for the development of
V-Frog, which has a patent pending.
Others involved in research and development of
V-Frog -- which drew upon some 120 sources in its overall
production -- include Kesh Kesavadas, Ph.D., chief technology
officer for Tactus Technologies; James Mayrose, Ph.D., chief
executive officer, and James Lalley, Ph.D., director of
educational products. Kesavadas is director of UB's Virtual
Reality Lab and an associate professor of mechanical and
Additional information is available at
www.vfrog.net, or by
calling (716) 206-8463.
The University at Buffalo is a premier
research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in
the State University of New York system that is its largest and
most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue
their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate,
graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the
University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American
Contact : John DellaContrada
716-645-5000 ext 1409