First published on Radius Insights, read more at https://www.radiusinnovation.com/insights/
For anyone involved in innovation and ideation, augmented reality (AR) is nothing new. In fact, many of you have likely been working in AR before it became newsworthy or trendy. The good news is that now after years of under-the-radar development, testing, and analysis – AR is approaching mainstream.
The major question underlying the AR of 2017 is where will it go? This of course depends on you, me, and the rest of the out-of-the-box thinkers around the world. The AR we’re experiencing right now, today, is the tip of the iceberg. Think of it as the Internet in 1998 – blogs were kind of becoming a thing, social media really wasn’t around, smartwatches and m-commerce weren’t even a glimmer for everyday consumers – and now look at what we have.
One of the major interests we have here at Radius Innovation & Development is in healthcare innovation. Not only are the opportunities for research and development tremendous, it’s equally important to do all we can to bring more good to the world. Healthcare innovation allows us to do this by taking the best in current and future technologies and applying them to real-world problems.
Healthcare: A Real-World Problem
No country or city is immune to healthcare issues. Hospitals and other medical centers are overcrowded, underfunded, and working within cumbersome bureaucratic infrastructure. However, it is within and from this damaged system that we’ve witnessed some of the best advances and uses of healthcare technology. CT Scans, MRI technology, 3D-printed prosthetics, organ transplants, automated recording keeping, robotic pill dispensers – the list goes on and on.
Healthcare is ready for an AR revolution. With projections that AR will be an $83 billion industry by 2021, this is only good news for healthcare. Will AR fix a damaged healthcare system and offer equitable, accessible, and affordable care to everyone worldwide? Maybe. What we do know is that it can be a game-changer.
AR can give everyone involved in the healthcare system better opportunities. AR has the ability to combine immersive experiences with enhanced, digital experience. With better opportunities comes the chance to improve and change healthcare – making it work for all of us.
- Assisted surgery. Some surgeries require the very best in experience and knowledge. Too many patients are limited by location and cost to make this possible. Imagine if surgeons were able to connect and work together in real-time AR to help each other perform complicated surgeries. Removing the barriers of distance and cost from healthcare access.
- Access to care. The Internet has given us easy access to all levels of healthcare information from symptoms to the latest published research to details about clinical trials. What if we could take this information and transform it into a smart doctor device? With the use of our smart devices we could have access to specialists who can diagnose and advise us without ever entering a hospital. This frees up limited emergency room and consult time – ensuring that those who really need hospital care can have it when they need it.
- Patient history. There is a void of information-sharing across specialists, hospitals, and other medical centers. A patient sees their family doctor, is referred to a specialist, who then doesn’t have access to the patient’s latest bloodwork or test results, finally the patient receives a diagnosis but is then referred to another medical center – where the process begins again. This broken communication system and disconnected network results in costly delays, waiting periods that can impact the patient’s health, and frustration for everyone. AR can fix this by opening the communication pathways and delivering the latest test results in seconds rather than weeks.
These are just three areas where we can all work together to move healthcare systems forward. Imagine if the burden of care was lightened, allowing those running these vital institutions to then look at improving the system as a whole – rather than worrying about more emergency room beds or the funding of expensive surgery or reducing wait times.
Real World AR in Healthcare Today
One of our main areas of focus at Radius is in knowing what is happening right now with current technology. As industry analysts, we need to know how AR is being used now to help us (and you) envision how we can use it tomorrow. At Hannover Messe 2017, Radius demonstrated the potential of the Microsoft HoloLens on the world of product innovation and development by bringing holograms into real-world design challenges. If you haven’t seen our demonstration, be sure to check it out here.
In our research, we’ve come across some other very innovative ways in which AR is being used in healthcare today. Maybe one of these applications will spark a lightbulb moment for you?
- AccuVein. Having blood drawn can be painful for sick people. AccuVein is a handheld scanner that shows nurses and doctors where the patient’s veins are located, reducing painful incidences of missed veins.
- ‘Gemini’ Refractive Capsule. This device is similar to a contact lens, but is a medical device that can treat sight defects such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
- Scopis. Is developing AR surgical software and systems that guide surgeons during complex spinal, ENT, brain, and other surgeries. These AR tools provide surgeons with additional views, allowing them to better anticipate complications.
- OxSight. AR glasses that help visually impaired people recognize and navigate their surroundings. This innovation is considered to be a replacement for canes and seeing-eye dogs.