A Whole New World
One of the most promising pieces of innovative technology that could impact multiple industries has to be augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and the healthcare system is no exception. Some of the uses of AR/VR technology within the healthcare sphere could include an overall enhanced patient experience through engagement and excitement, psychological relief and treatment that could improve physical conditions, body mapping, and data visualization. AR/VR technology is relatively new on the scene, but it has opened up multiple opportunities for various industries. This innovative technology could revolutionize patient engagement and experience, accessibility, interactivity of information, and overall efficiency of care if included within the healthcare sector.
Near-Term (12 Months)
- Positive Effect from Precision: Top-notch education and precision focused on AR/VR technology within the medical setting can trickle down and positively affect surgery, health outcomes, and recoveries, lead to reduced costs
- Education for all: The education does not only stop with the physicians and surgeons, but can reach the patients, as they become more active in their treatments and understand the intricacies of their surgeries with displayed AR and VR
- Invest in time: Time is crucial in designing an effective platform using AR/VR technology in order to convey and promote the information, education, and efficacy successfully
- AR/VR Hype: AR/VR technology is an exciting innovative tool that can help augment the healthcare system, yet it is relatively new idea that is still finding its footing in being a consistent asset
- Many factors for success: Need plenty of money, resources, and trust from investors to produce, manufacture, and deliver these AR/VR technologies
- Assets of healthcare institutions: The same level of money, resources, and trust is necessary from physicians and healthcare administrators, which might be only possible for well-designed and well-funded facilities to attain
Long-Term (3+ Years)
- Changing medical training: Both current and future surgeons will cultivate their skills through the help of well-designed AR/VR platforms, as medical schools, hospitals, and other clinical settings can facilitate their institutions with this technology and provide a more immersive educational experience
- Informed and engaged patients: Patients will become more informed and knowledgeable about their upcoming surgeries with a visual representation that AR/VR offers, which can, in turn, improve their relationship with their physicians
- Encouraging easy collaboration: Communication and consultations — both in-person and virtual — between medical teams will also improve with effective AR/VR technology, making their interactions more seamless
- Mistrust and skepticism: Poorly designed models can stimulate skepticism and mistrust from physicians and surgeons in regards to the technology’s precision and efficiency
- Lack of sustainability: Designers must create AR/VR technology that lasts for the long-run, from longer battery power for 10+ hour surgeries to general durability and reliability
- Financial loss: The cost of supplying AR/VR technology into clinical settings is much greater than its benefits of reducing health costs if companies do not maintain trust in their product and plan an effective and cost-efficient business model
Augmedics distributes the XVision system, the first AR navigation technology to be used in surgery. Easily coined as giving surgeons “x-ray vision”, the XVision system allows surgeons to see the patients’ anatomy through the skin and tissue and permits them to navigate instruments and implants, specifically spinal, more accurately during surgery. XVision is a headset with many features that guide surgeons through surgery and spinal implants when looking at the patient rather than a remote screen. Some of those features include a powerful high speed processor for visual tracking, wireless system that allows free movement in the OR, personalized headset allowing a custom fit, integrated headlight that illuminates the focus area, built-in surgical tracking system that accurately determines the surgical tools’ positions in real time, and a transparent AR display.
The Switzerland-based company MindMaze developed a platform designed to help those disabled neurologically, mainly stroke victims, recover by retraining their brain with the help of virtual reality, computer graphics, and brain imaging. MindMaze believes that neurohabilitation and restoration is done best with experience-dependent plasticity, which should be done with intense brain experiences that cannot be found in traditional healthcare. Their FDA and CE approved digital therapeutics allow patients to physically interact with engaging content designed to holistically train and assess motor and cognitive function. MindMaze is effective so much so that it helps relieve phantom pain for amputees, as the VR technology provides a placebo effect for the patients.
This company has expanded into other industries, including sports and video gaming with their platforms MindDrive and Mask, respectively. While MindDrive is a biosensing net that captures drivers’ and pit crews’ neural signatures in real-time during a race, Mask is an improved VR-headset that will bring emotional cues into VR through the measurement of electrical signals and detection of users’ biosignals, rather than muscular movements.
Ikea provides the Ikea Place app and has recently released new updates that improves customer satisfaction with the company’s variety of products available via AR technology. Using Apple’s AR platform ARKit, the Ikea Place app allows customers to virtually place pieces of furniture inside different rooms in their homes to give a clearer idea of how well the furniture will integrate. Ikea updated the app with plenty of new features that provide a more personalized home shopping experience with the help of AR, including a personalized feed of inspiration and curated collections for every customer, multiplacement of multiple furniture items within a single room in an AR setting, and room sets that map out a given room, allow the customer to choose the theme, and replicate an Ikea showroom.
Virtual Reality and Inclusivity
Fashion companies have utilized AR and VR technology to provide a much more immersive customer experience and improve customer satisfaction with their products. ASOS partnered with the Israeli AR company Zeekit to launch an inclusive AR program called See My Fit that allows customers to virtually try over 800 different outfits. The See My Fit app shows clothing items on different models of all shapes and sizes that the customers can choose based on who they more closely reflect in order to get a more realistic depiction of the desired outfit on them. After the customer selects their chosen model, the app maps digitally the product onto the model by taking into account the size, cut, and fit of each individual garment. Although released as a trial, ASOS is working on a final launch of See My Fit due to the high praise for the enhanced shopping experience through innovative technology. While See My Fit was popular, there was plenty of criticism that ASOS is taking into consideration into their final product, such as including male models and plus sizes.
“Together with Asos, we have a shared mission to make online fashion as personalised and easy-to-use as possible for customers. With our patented, artificial intelligence-based AR technology powering See My Fit, we can connect the dots between what you see when shopping and what you receive at home, giving customers more confidence in purchasing the products they love.” ~Yael Vizel, Zeekit Chief Executive