REVIEW: BBC’s Augmented Reality for Human Body: Secrets of Your Life series. Is this the future of TV?

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If, like me, you watched the first episode of the Human Body: Secrets of Your Life series on the BBC and enjoyed finding out about what makes us humans truly unique, then you may be intrigued to check out the accompanying augmented reality experience.

Created by the Open University and BBC Studios, it uses the latest Augmented Reality (AR) technology provided by Zappar to bring various organs of your body to life from a static image on a page.

All you have to do is open the Human Body poster here where you will find ‘postcards’ showing three main organs: heart, liver and brain (warning – they’re probably not the sort of postcards you want to send home to your loved ones from holiday).

Once you’ve downloaded and opened the Zappar app, you have two options. Either you can use the ‘Scan Zapcode’ option to ‘unlock’ the poster onscreen (you can use the image shown above if you want to). As soon as it recognises the Zappar code, a flashy silver graphic will then switch the 3D animation on. 

Or, if you have printed out the postcards individually, it’s possible to switch the phone into selfie mode and hold them to the appropriate part of the body. So the idea is that you can effectively superimpose a 3D image of, say, the liver on top of your own liver! Or the 3D image of a brain onto your own brain. You get the idea.

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Each of the 3D animations, like this of the heart pictured above, incorporates various ‘hotspots’ enabling you to tap and learn more about how each of the organs work. For example, you can see how the blood pumps through your heart, how your brain processes thousands of thoughts and how your liver cleans toxins from your system.

As well as seeing how your healthy organs function, you can also learn about what happens when these organs become diseased and stop working as well as access advice on how to keep yourself healthy.

It’s all good fun and quite informative and I can imagine it working well with a bunch of school children in a biology lesson.

However, I’m not exactly sure why you need augmented reality technology for this to work.

Sure, it’s a nice gimmick to be able to project an animation of an organ onto your body or even an image of a liver onto a pint of beer should you so choose. But I don’t think it’s central to the experience. I think I’ll stick to watching the TV programme instead.

Human Body: Secrets of Your Life

Images are downloadable from or you can request the interactive poster and postcards from The Open University website or by telephoning 0300 3033640.



Chris Price