Inside 3D4Medical

3D4Medical DublinGlobe.com

Founded in Dublin, 3D4Medical is one of Ireland’s most successful HealthTech startup stories.

A combination HealthTech company, animation studio and virtual publisher, 3D4 products are used by millions of doctors, nurses and sports professionals worldwide. Formerly known for their stock images, 3D4 have put themselves on the map globally thanks to their popular interactive apps – to date, they’ve produced over a hundred of them, with over 8.5 million downloads and multiple appearances in iPad commercials… They even featured in a keynote address given by Apple CEO Tim Cook. While they have a California office, Dublin remains their base: We spoke to 3D4Medical’s CEO John Moore:

John Moore 3D4Medical

How long has 3D4Medical been in operation?
We’re ten years old, but for the first five and a half we were a very different company. Originally, we did stock imagery: we produced around 18,000 images, with 51 distributors worldwide including Getty and Corbis. We got on the cover of Time a few times. Even today, if you read an article about something health-related, there’s a good chance the image came from us.

What happened to make you change to creating apps instead?
We knew there was a gap in the market for 3D medical images, something that went beyond the usual 2D illustrations or gory-looking photos in textbooks. At the end of 2007 the recession hit: there was no money in advertising and very little in publishing, so we ended up going into 3D animations of the human body.

The human body seems such a complicated thing to map in one app…
At the start, we didn’t really know what we were doing, but these days the apps have a wide user base. We get specialists writing in if we misplace a vein by a few millimeters. We’ve progressed really quickly – our new suite of apps, which come out in September, have 9000 new structures.

Which one is the bestseller?
Essential Anatomy is by far the bestseller, with over 1.1 million users per month. It’s used by doctors a lot for reference and for patient education. Then the biggest market for us is students. With Essential Anatomy, we were aiming to replace those five to ten textbooks that people studying medicine have to buy.

How do you make the apps so realistic? Does a team have to dissect actual dead bodies?
You’re going to be freaked out, but… Do you see that box? (There is a box in the corner of the office marked ‘Skulls Unlimited’) In there is an actual skull, and some human vertebrae. We used to do a lot of work with cadavers – we worked with the Royal College of Surgeons, to make sure our images were medically accurate. More recently we’ve had a partnership with Stanford University in the US.

What’s next for 3D4Medical?
Pretty soon, we’re going to be able to create entire virtual cadavers so realistic that trainee doctors will do virtual dissections on them. We’ll be able to simulate disease states right away, and use VR headsets to make the experience completely life-like. People think that’s a long way away, but it’s really not.

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