The healthcare field is constantly being changed by new drugs, new studies, and new therapies
However, the field often lags when it comes to adopting new technology, and even making the seemingly straightforward move to electronic records has proven to be a lengthy process. Still, new technology not created exclusively for medicine is coming, and mixed reality devices in particular are becoming a reality for many medical professionals and healthcare centers.
Mixed reality combines virtual reality elements with human vision. Head-mounted devices use clear screens to give users an unobstructed view, but various technologies can be used to project images onto the screen. For doctors, MR provides a means of viewing images and data far more convenient than charts or screens. Furthermore, MR can provide new ways of interacting with patients by projecting information onto medical charts or even directly on the patient. As medical schools and other organizations continue to explore MR, experts will devise novel uses for MR technology.
Among all the MR devices coming to market, the one that’s garnered the most attention is the HoloLens from Microsoft. The head-mounted device is more bulky than Google Glass but it offers far greater capabilities by using holograms to create realistic images. HoloLens is also more aware of what the user is seeing, and this greater flexibility provides a host of new use cases traditional AR technology can’t match. HoloLens headsets aren’t cheap, as they currently have a price tag above $3,000, but their cost is relatively low compared to many common medical devices and no doubt cheaper headsets will come to the market in the coming years.
Having an intimate knowledge of human anatomy is crucial for medical students. While charts and interactive computer programs can be valuable tools, medical students often work with cadavers. With MR, students can receive a similarly detailed experience at any time. Furthermore, MR technology can let students zoom in on particular segments, providing a way to explore that’s impractical with a cadaver. Already, medical schools are looking to turn to MR as a primary means of educating future doctors.
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