“When using augmented reality in the operating room, it’s like having a GPS navigator in front of your eyes in a natural way so you don’t have to look at a separate screen to see your patient’s CT scan”, said Dr. Timothy Witham, professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. And this is only one of numerous benefits that the adoption of augmented reality in medicine field has generated. Augmented reality (AR), as we know, is the technology that allows digital contents (such as images, video, objects, animation ecc..) to take place in the real world. It’s a technology that is changing the way we live, we think and most of all it’s shaping the future, leading us towards new innovative, smarter and improved lifestyles.
In the medicine aerea, AR is creating new ways of helping people and saving lives like never before. It allows doctors to have more accuracy, more focus, more information and, of course, a better outcome and diagnosis. Including virtual objects and tools in the real world, doctors can see things right in front of them and in terms of accuracy this is a huge step forward. Also, timing speaking, it cuts all the waiting, looking, searching moments, increasingly reducing time of operations.
How Augmented Reality in medicine works
In order to integrate the Augmented Reality in medicine we need to define some technical practical aspects that allow us to use it properly.
- Among the main actions in using AR in medicine, the camera calibration is one of the most important one. In this process, the camera needs to “understand” the environment that will host the Augmented Reality object.
- In the medicine AR, the crucial action to take is the patient registration. A computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a view of the internal anatomy of the patient and also the target points in case of surgery operations.
- Another essential component is object tracking which is essential in order to calculate the exact position that it will be necessary to operate.
Why Augmented Reality in medicine is so important
AR can let us know if there are defibrillators nearby
It could happen all the time, while walking in a street, that you might see someone who suddenly collapsed and of course the first thing you’ll do is to call an ambulance. Now, though, there are some apps that, using AR, can also tell you if there are defibrillators nearby, so that you might be able to give additional help in the meantime. There could also be other applications that thanks to the AR localization can be crucial in saving lives, giving essential information to the individuals.
AR can teach us about the human body
Augmented reality is every year more used also in the education field, especially when talking about medicine. It is studied that studying (or teaching) by welcoming the help of Augmented reality can help students to learn better, faster and especially to understand in a deeper way difficult concepts. Being able to see and try in a more 3dimensional and immersive way, rather than reading a book, allows students to remember more and assimilate better. In fact, it is known that learning using other senses rather than just reading enhances the chances to remember, internalize and elaborate harder and more articulated topics.
AR can be very appreciated both for kids who are willing to learn more about the human body in a funnier, immersive way and for medicine students at the University that can learn faster, better and though become better doctors. For instance, during a lecture it could be possible to show a certain part of the body such as a heart or a bone and have the chance to study it by watching it on your tablet or phone in 3D.
It’s marking the new frontiers of the surgery
Everyone knows that when it comes to surgery, precision is the crucial element for the outcome of an intervention and here it is where AR can really show all its potential. Augmented Reality in medicine allows surgeons to be more precise ( Studies affirmed that AR gives the 98% of the accuracy, which makes it at the same level or even higher of other methods).
In June 2020, for instance, for the first time at Johns Hopkins a spinal surgery has been made using AR technology in living patient , and one of the first sentences that came out from the surgeon when talking whether to use AR or not he says “I feel more comfortable when I use it”.
This was the first AR surgery and it was a spinal surgery on a living patient, but, as we have seen, AR surgery is expanding very fast and also more complicated operations have been conducted with success. For example, AR surgery can involve cardiac operations, such as the removal or alterations of heart parts, and also bone tumor resection, allowing doctors to be more accurate and precise and that make patients feel safer and calmer.
AR in medicine might also detect mental illnesses
Did you know that when talking, humans send unconscious messages through their facial movements, the position of the body and also their tone of voice and that they have nothing to do with what they are saying? Well, a lot of us already knew that by analyzing a person’s gesture and expressions, or the way he/she talks, for instance, it is possible to understand if that person seems attracted or interested to us, but, did you know that it is also possible to understand if that person might suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental conditions? Well, Augmented Reality can help with that too.
Through the scanning of a human body in movement, AR can detect if some gesture or expression might mean something serious and thus give us more awareness about our conditions. The other innovative part is that you might do the scanning on your own, or with the help of a familiar person, and only after your personal diagnosis, you can go to the doctor. In this way you could spare time trying to do a personal diagnosis and/or help the doctor with a better and deeper diagnosis since you are able to give him more information about your condition.
Our Augmented Reality in medicine expertise
Inglobe Technologies is a well known company in AR medical field with projects that involve techniques such as Rehabilitative Robotic Platform and Risk Management. On March 25, 2015, Inglobe Technologies and Tecres joined forces to create one of the first immersive experiences in the medical field: the Tecres interactive Mirror and App. In this experience, we created a set of tools that make the communication of advanced orthopedic technology not only effective but also amusing. The system recognizes humans in the interaction area that are scanned in the metaphorical X-ray Mirror, where an X-ray skeleton, controlled by the user, interacts with the products.