Review: Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy for iPad

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Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy for iPad

Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomyis one of those iPad apps that reminds you of the amazing things that can be done on an iPad. It’s just the sort of app that Steve Jobs would’ve loved to show off while sitting in a comfy chair when unveiling the iPad back in 2010.

For starters, the actual content of this app is incredible and I’m not sure it could be shared so effectively or impressively anywhere other than in this iPad app:

This sublime collection of drawings of human anatomy by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. All 268 pages from Leonardo’s notebooks are presented here at the highest resolution, optimised for the pin-sharp retina display of the new iPad. For the first time it is possible for anyone with an iPad to own and explore this remarkable testament to Leonardo’s scientific and artistic genius.

The apps’s list of features is also very impressive:

• Beautiful interactive book interface
• All 268 of Leonardo’s anatomical drawings pinch-zoomable at high resolution
• Takes full advantage of the new iPad’s retina display
• A magic spyglass to decode Leonardo’s mirror writing
• Touch any of Leonardo’s extensive notes to read in situ a typeset English translation
• Eleven story chapters, written by Martin Clayton, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at Windsor Castle, explaining Leonardo’s anatomical investigations and presenting over 70 selected works with interactive features

• Integrated 3D anatomical models from world-leading medical animators Primal Pictures, carefully matched to Leonardo’s illustrations and made interactive using Touch Press rotational technology
• Expert interviews discussing the significance of Leonardo’s anatomical discoveries
• Comprehensive catalogue text for all drawings in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace (4 May – 7 October 2012)
• Intelligent keyword searching and collection navigation via a human body interface

Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy for iPad
This is easily one of the most beautiful iPad apps I’ve ever seen. I intended to take just a quick look at it this morning as I thought it was a notable new title. I ended spending ages with it, as it’s a pure pleasure to experience. Here are just a few of the things that make this app so outstanding:

– The UI is gorgeous, understated, and effortless to use. There’s a lovely subtle background that makes reading very easy on the eyes. In landscape orientation text occupies a constant area of about 60% on the left-hand side of each page – with images on the right. You can just swipe vertically to move through each of the 11 chapters. A single tap will take you to the next chapter. The Table of Contents page and a drop-down to move to any of the chapters are also available with a single tap in the top nav bar. There’s also a nifty brightness adjusting slider under the text button at the top right of the nav bar.

Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy for iPad

Table of Contents

– Of course the images in the app are incredible. . Although the focus of this app is on Leonardo’s scientific endeavors there are also portions that touch on works of art he worked on during ‘time off’ his scientific studies.

Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy iPad app

Some of the most impressive drawings are compared to modern day images directly on the page.

Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy iPad app

Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy iPad app

– The app offers great insight on how important Leonardo’s scientific efforts were and are, and how far ahead of his time he was. Here’s just one impressive quote on this topic from Peter H. Abrahams, Professor of Clinical Anatomy, Warwick Medical School

His drawings are so good that 500 years later I use his pictures to illustrate anatomy. In fact his picture of the scalp, I’ve been using since I was a first-year lecturer because it is a perfect illustration of the five layers like an onion of the anatomical structures of the scalp.

– Though the app’s content is all about these treasured works from centuries ago, the way it is rendered and shared here is as state-of-the-art and high tech as you could possibly ask for. This feels 100% like a leading edge iPad app. One feature I especially enjoy is hyperlinked text on pages that lets you see specific sections of accompanying images highlighted and blown up.

Highlight section of image

– Another favorite feature is the way video clips are presented in the app. At the end of each chapter they’re shown right on the page, with no border or frame to them – and you suddenly have an eminent scientist or academic speaking to you and sharing wonderful details about the chapter content you’ve just read through. You have to see this in action to see how nicely done this is – I’ll look to do a screencast showing off this app soon.

Video on page

Here’s a little slice of the App Store intro for the app:

This beautiful interactive edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical notebooks transcends the printed page. Here Leonardo’s work is presented in a way that is both illuminating and a pleasure to explore. This is an edition for the 21st Century in a digital form that the archetypal Renaissance Man would most certainly have appreciated and approved.

I absolutely agree. This is just a superb app all the way around – unique and spectacular content,  presented perfectly on the iPad, and a wonderful introduction to a lesser-known side of one of history’s great geniuses.

Here’s an App Store link for Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy for iPad; it’s priced at $14.99.

Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author. For more information about our review policies see our About page.

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Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

3 thoughts on “Review: Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy for iPad

  1. An app like that should be free. Of course it takes time and energy to create an app but these drawings are part of the humanity cultural heritage and therefore should be accessible to everyone.

    • Paul, tired of the “free” mentality. If you want something pay for it and the hard work that went into making it.

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