In this blog post
What is AR Technology?
Augmented reality (AR) technology is an enhanced version of the real world that is achieved using digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli and delivered via technology. It combines the real world and computer-generated content. The technologies used behind AR are Multimedia, 3D-Modelling, Real-time Tracking and Registration, Intelligent Interaction, Sensing and more.
AR incorporates three features:
- a combination of digital and physical worlds,
- interactions made in real-time,
- accurate 3D identification of virtual and real objects
AR projections are displayed on various screens, glasses, handheld devices, smartphones, and headsets.
A quick example to relate would be that AR technology lets consumers try out digital versions of furniture directly in their own homes!
What is VR Technology?
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that simulates vision to end up with a 3D environment in which a user appears to be immersed while browsing through it or experiencing it. The 3D environment is then controlled in all 3D by the user.
Virtual Reality comprises four primary elements:
- virtual world,
- sensory feedback,
The image explains how a user is immersed in a car driving using a virtual reality head-mounted display steering wheel.
AR/VR are prevalent in almost all the industries now – Automotive, Retail, Tourism, Real Estate, Interior Designing, and so on.
Is AR & VR the same?
Well…not really. Here are some of the key differences between the two technologies:
- VR creates a virtual environment before you, where you can interact with the elements in that environment. AR enhances the view of the real world with an overlay of digital elements.
- In case of virtual reality, your screen becomes your world whereas in case of augmented reality, your real world becomes your screen.
- VR provides you 75% virtual experience, while AR is only 25% virtual.
- You require a headset to view the VR environment, while it is not necessary for AR.
- VR users are completely immersed in the fictional world, while AR users are still in contact with the real world.
- AR requires higher bandwidth than VR.
- AR enhances the virtual world and the real world. VR replaces the real world with a fictional reality.
AR and VR: A successful synergy in Healthcare
As we speak about the various industries AR/VR cater to, we cannot leave Healthcare out of it. Their contribution to healthcare is immense. AR/VR is used extensively in day-to-day surgeries, prognosis, and other procedures. It enables safe and progressive technology for practitioners and patients. AR/VR is paving the way for digitization of healthcare, and presents valuable opportunities for application for payers, healthcare professionals and providers, and medical devices.
According to Forbes report of Jul 2022, AR and VR market in healthcare is poised to reach nearly $9.7 billion in worth in the next 5 years. Many healthcare companies have already started capitalizing on this technology.
1. Medical Training
To start with, AR and VR supports the root of healthcare – medical training. Medical students are trained with the help of AR/VR to practice medicine via simulations. The technology allows simulated surgical procedures and imitates the exact moves during surgery with your hands. Since medical students are well acquainted with the human anatomy in their education phase, they can handle surgeries more confidently which in turn significantly reduces the risk of complications during the surgeries.
Medical students using VR can now explore accurate and real human anatomy including the cardiovascular and central nervous system, muscles, and bones in a completely immersive environment.
2. Professional Care Augmentation
AR/VR helps doctors comprehend the medical situation covering every minute detail to catch errors in the diagnosis.
AR/VR helps doctors capture early signs of any underlying disease. In case of complicated or new medical conditions, AR/VR provide great opportunity for practitioners to experiment on virtual human bodies which help them to treat the condition successfully. During surgeries, surgeons can view the patient vitals by wearing AR-enabled head-mounted device through simulation without the need to gather data from elsewhere. So, procedures can be much safer than before, which helps in bringing down the mortality rate.
3. Other practical applications
- Robotic surgery – Controlled through a virtual reality parallel system as a digital twin, the robot can accurately image a patient through ultrasound without the hand cramping or radiation exposure that hinder human operators.
- Post-traumatic stress treatment – When patients are placed into the environment with a traumatic situation, it helps them find a solution and overcome the crisis.
- Anxiety, phobia, and depression treatment – Patients can use VR for meditations or relaxation in safe environments provided by VR.
- Personalized approach to patients – VR and AR helps doctors to educate patients on the treatment plan and better explain the pre-operative details in a simulated view. This goes a long way in providing an anxiety-free encounter for the patient.
- Reaching out to common man
Augmented reality can save lives by showing defibrillators nearby. In case of emergencies, AR/VR applications can save lives. The AED4EU app, created by Lucien Engelen from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Netherlands, helps its users to add places where automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are available nearby. The key part—physicians can access the database through the application. Moreover, with the Layar browser, users can project the exact location of the nearest AEDs on the screen of their phone, and it would take a minute to find them and help those in need. Augmented reality brings crucial pieces of information to those in need or danger.
The Obvious Benefits of AR/VR in Healthcare
- Improved patient experience: Simulation of events can help better understand the patterns of disorders and develop more effective treatment strategies. AR/VR helps treat specific medical conditions such as anxiety, various kinds of phobias, and addictions. They also help in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders.
- Realistic experience & better care: AR and VR give the most realistic impression of how the human body is built and how it functions; hence, provide a high level of immersion for the medical professionals.
- High Scalability: AR/VR can be used anywhere providing high opportunity for mentors/experts to connect and consult anywhere in real-time.
- Low risk and high safety: Training in AR/VR as compared with practicing on real patients involves much less risk for the patient
- Cost-effectiveness: Cost of AR apps is relatively low in comparison with the cost of setting up anatomy theatres and providing cadavers and specimens for students to practice. Additionally, VR simulators provide low-cost opportunity for reproducible training under various environments and difficulty levels.
- Higher efficiency: AR/VR guarantee high level of efficiency as tablets, mobile phones, AR glasses, and other optimized devices are employed as hardware for running AR applications.
What is the future of AR/VR?
Mixed Reality (MR) is already the next phase of AR/VR. It helps you manipulate both physical and virtual items and environments using next generation sensing and imaging technologies. MR provides the user a hybrid experience that involves both physical and virtual elements. Mixed reality can immerse you in both real world and an imaginary place, giving you a unique experience.
- Humans won’t need prescription glasses anymore. The AR system corrects vision for you, tracking your eye movement and focal point.
- AR and VR could converge as new glasses and bring on darkness by cancelling light waves, much like noise-canceling headphones do.
- In 2025, we’ll wear “smart contact lenses” that will gradually evolve to full AR functionality.
- Last but not the least, if AI & AR meet, AI powers facial and spatial recognition software needed for AR to function. AR and AI solutions can work together to provide innovative solutions.
Let’s gear-up for an enthralling technology-immersed future!