Apping the Human Body

The human body has always been one of DK's bestselling subjects. Our most recent success, The Human Body Book, has sold over 1.2m copies worldwide.  So when we set about producing the Human Body app we knew it needed to be every bit as informative and beautiful as the book but with rich new layers of accessibility and interactivity. Because of the scale and complexity of the project – 11 body systems, 46 chapters, 99 stories and 100s of images – we looked for a technical and design partner to work with us. Award-winning digital agency AKQA fitted the bill perfectly and we worked closely with them on the project.

After several months, and contributions from just about every DK department from creative to marketing, we had a groundbreaking app of which we were exceptionally proud. It's not just a digital version of the book – it's a unique product that delivers an entirely new user experience. There's a 3D-rendered model that you can spin through 360 degrees, peel back layers of hair, skin, and muscle right down to the skeleton, and zoom into any part of the anatomy. Or you can click on a hotspot on the detailed views of every body system to reveal the name of even the tiniest body part and its function. You can watch video of the heart beating (complete with low-frequency haptic feedback that makes your iPad vibrate in time) or see nerve impulses racing across the brain. Or you can spin the “carousel” to discover more in-depth explanations of how the body works – fully illustrated, of course.  Written in conjunction with doctors and practitioners, the app presents enough detail to satisfy the demanding student plus rich illustrations and features for the casual browser.

After much deliberation and consultation we set the UK price at £9.99, and have been pleased to see it selling in volume. We feel the app shows how relevant, desirable and profitable educational reference content can be; an engaging app which we believe could change the way people learn.  Nothing else has the breadth, depth, range of features and ease of access for both educational and family audiences on a platform of this nature.  We've been delighted by the response the app has had in terms of awards, accolades, user reviews and media praise.  Clearly it is crossing over to a general, interested user – as do our books. But we'd still love to see it in the hands of every health professional up and down the land, where it can be used to explain to patients what's happening – or is about to happen! – to them.

Jonathan Metcalf, DK Publishing Director



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