Augmented Reality revolutionizing the healthcare

These virtual contents are usually in the form of digital images or videos implemented Augmented reality is the merging of the physical world into digital life. It can be also described as "unlocking the natural way the brain thinks using technologies". It aims to enhance the real world by overlaying computer-generated content with live visual display. The sector of augmented reality has existed for just over one decade, but the growth and development within the past few years have been wonderful. AR is a mixture of advanced Virtual Reality technologies. in 3D rendered models.

Augmented Reality has brought advancement and higher levels efficiency to the healthcare sector. It is transforming the lives of both doctors and patients.

1) Advanced Surgery: American health company Augmedics has brought revolution involving augmented reality in surgery. The xvision Spine System is a groundbreaking first. An AR navigation system enabling surgeons to visualize patients’ spinal system in 3D and do surgery while looking at the patient and not on a screen. The Augmedics xvision Spine System consists of a transparent near-eye-display headset that is worn by the surgeon. Navigation data is projected onto your surgeon's retina via the headset, allowing them to see through the skin and tissue as if they have “x-ray vision.” Xvision Spine System aims to revolutionize how we do surgery by making it easier for surgeons, safer for patients and faster for both. And improving the workflow of the doctors and surgeons we trust our health with, and sometimes life, doesn’t sound too bad right?

2) Life saver showing defibrillators nearby: Augmented Reality in Medicine do if a person next to you collapsed suddenly? All kinds of thoughts would rush through your head, and no matter whether you would think of calling an ambulance, a doctor or your mom for help, you would definitely reach for your phone.

And I suggest you consider downloading the Layar reality browser combined with AED4EU app to your phone next to the basic emergency numbers so the next time you get into a similar situation, you will be able to help more.

AED4EU was created by Lucien Engelen from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands. Its users can add places where automated external defibrillators or AEDs are located and this database can be accessed through this new application. Moreover, with the Layar browser, you can project the exact location of the nearest AEDs on the screen of your phone and it would take a minute to find them and help those in need. So augmented reality brings crucial pieces of information to those in need or danger.

3) Google Glass helps breastfeeding mothers: While Google Glass couldn’t conquer the world, it was used to help new mothers with breastfeeding. The Melbourne office of an innovation company called Small World conducted a Google Glass trial with the Australian Breastfeeding Association that effectively allowed their telephone counsellors to see through the eyes of mothers while they breastfed at home. Through such a way struggling mothers could get expert help at any time of the day and they did not even have to put down the baby from their arms. By sharing the patient’s perspective, consultations get to a new level.

3) At patients’ convenience: Patients often struggle when they have to describe their symptoms to their doctors accurately. In other cases, people often find themselves overreacting a medical situation or on the contrary, belittle the problem. In ophthalmology, augmented reality might be the answer for patient education.

There are many medical apps which uses the camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision. Using apps like EyeDecide, doctors can show simulation of the vision of a patient suffering from a specific condition.

4) Nurses find veins easier: The start-up company AccuVein is using AR technology to make both nurses’ and patients’ lives easier. AccuVein’s marketing specialist, Vinny Luciano said 40% of IVs (intravenous injections) miss the vein on the first stick, with the numbers getting worse for children and the elderly.

AccuVein uses augmented reality by using a handheld scanner that projects over skin and shows nurses and doctors where veins are in the patients’ bodies. Luciano estimates that it’s been used on more than 10 million patients, making finding a vein on the first stick 3.5x more likely. Such technologies could assist healthcare professionals and extend their skills.

5) Motivating runners through zombies: Imagine that you are walking through a dark and abandoned alley, and you suddenly hear the groaning and the slow movement of a strange creature. I am pretty sure that even the laziest person would speed up after realizing that a “real zombie” is after him. This is the basic idea behind the Zombies, Run! application.

The game monopolizes on the fact that fear can motivate people and the fact that everything seems to be more fun when turned into a game. This app is perfect for those who consider running a boring activity. If you not only hear but also see virtual zombies projected onto your phone or device’s screen, you will not only increase your speed and endurance, but also feel that time is just flying by.

6) More innovative drug information: Have you ever been curious about how a drug works in your body? Even if you got interested in discovering how the distant world of pills and medicaments work, I bet you lost all your enthusiasm after you read the boring and indecipherable drug description. Now, augmented reality is here to change it.

With the help of AR, patients can see how the drug works in 3D in front of their eyes instead of just reading long descriptions on the bottle. Lab workers could monitor their experiments with augmented reality equipment. In pharmaceutical factories, workers could start working without hands on trainings as the device would tell them what to do, and how to do it.

8) Enhancement in medical education: Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic have partnered with Microsoft to release a HoloLens app called HoloAnatomy to visualize the human body in an easy and spectacular way.

With Microsoft’s HoloLens Headset, app users are able to see everything from muscles to the tiniest veins before their eyes on a dynamic holographic model. I believe it will revolutionize medical education, as students will be able to see the human body in 3D instead of the usual working method: black-and-white pictures and written descriptions in books.

Although Microsoft Hololens is far from the “perfect” experience, there is no reason to believe that we will not get there soon. Thus, the most effective way to get used to this future trend is starting to educate ourselves and our children.

9) Teaching kids about the human body: The UK-based company, Curiscope creates immersive learning experiences in virtual and augmented reality. They developed the Virtuali-tee T-shirt, through which you can see the inner parts of the human body through realistic holograms. Virtuali-tee brings anatomy to life to such a point of illusion which already represents Arthur C. Clarke’s famous third law. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Do you remember which your favorite toy as a kid was? For example, I always had a passion for LEGO. Assembling little LEGO-parts into something new, creating castles, cars, complex cities – that is one of the best activities in the world. It stimulates your fantasy, your creativity, develops your skills for holistic vision as well as your attention to detail. Lately, there have been various videogames which attempt to recreate LEGO in the virtual space – such as Minecraft.

Parents often complain that their kids are just sitting in front of some screens, not learning anything about their environment and themselves, but I do not agree. Minecraft also enhances creativity, develops the way children see the world around them – but in a different way as LEGO. I think that from here, it is only one leap before we reach LEGO with AR, where the advantages of building something in the real world might be combined with virtual imagination.

This way, our kids would be able to know that real is real, but would also be ready to exploit the opportunities AR can provide us with.