New software allows scientists to “walk inside” samples

3 February 2021

New software will allow scientists to see data in 3D and create life-like models of objects like fossils and mummies, making it possible to "zoom in" on smaller details without damaging the original.

The revolutionary software involved, called Drishti, is simple, but powerful.

Applications of the latest version, Drishti Paint, have been explained in a new paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

"You can even 'walk around' inside the object to see what's there," lead author Ms Yuzhi Hu from The Australian National University said.

"After we scan the sample, we then have a set of 3D data which can be digitally dissected effectively using our new tool.

"This is the first known tool that can perform this kind of 3D segmentation directly on a volume of data."  

According to the team, the software could prove especially useful when it comes to scientific communication and education.

"Drishti is already being used internationally," National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) programmer Dr Ajay Limaye said.

"For example, it has been used to create an identical model from a mummy sample, so the mummy can be studied closely without damaging the original sample.

"We used scan data of a fish fossil as a case study, but our procedure can be used in biological, medical and industrial research."

Importantly, the software is free and available online for anyone to use.

Drishti was first developed by NCI in 2004 and has been under continuous development since then by Dr Limaye.   

It is a unique, open source visualisation software package that allows researchers to explore volumetric datasets as images and animations, find out more here