Augmented Reality can change brain surgery thanks to powerful diagnostic platforms, revolutionize radiology, and open new doors to reconstructive surgery.
Augmented Reality (AR), also known as spatial computing –a merging of digital and physical spaces,– is one of the current technology trends that, together with Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), is changing all industries, including healthcare and medical education.
Even though these technologies are enjoying a lot of attention today, they have been around for a long while. In 1965, Robert Mann introduced the first virtual system in medicine (The Thousand Faces of Virtual Reality). It was used to decide what the best procedure for an orthopedic disease would be. It was also used to facilitate a new training environment for orthopedic residents.
In the 1960s, the first simulators with 3D images appeared. Later on, in the late 1980s, the head-mounted display (HMD) (a wearable device) was introduced for VR visualizations in medicine.
A little over a decade later, the first pioneering applications in medical education started to appear in the form of some hands-on procedures. AR and VR share some technical aspects.
And, even though the development of Augmented Reality starts already in the 1960s, it was not until 1990 that the term Augmented Reality was established as such.
With it, a new era of spatial computing began in the clinical setting. Augmented Reality, today, provides augmented information for the physician and the surgeon during interventional procedures such as Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) visualization paths.
Augmented Reality is of great value in the educational world for both students and teachers. The main applications in medical education include representation of mechanisms in space and time dimensions in physiology, or 4D; and 3D visualizations of difficult structures in anatomy.
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