XR application : Use of XR in the medical field

XR is getting more widely used, from recreational to educational purposes, its application is getting more and more engraving in our lives. One particular useful example is the use of XR for the medical field.

Five Ways VR Is Being Used In Modern Healthcare - VRScout
trainee on brain surgery exercice

The aim of this XR application is to help trainee to gain experience during their formation. It helps to bring better doctor and improve the quality of the healthcare field. Thus, it helps curing more efficiently patients, which is a topic I am very passionate about.

Helping people is always an engaging cause, thereby, helping our futures doctors are also beneficial to this cause.

As we all now, the medical path is really complicated, and future doctors have their patients’ life in their hands. Trainee surgeons are in dire need to train for operating clinical interventions and the use of bodies given for science are still nowadays a must, but they can be overused by the time.

However, with XR, they now have the possibility to perform a surgery in their real environment without a need of a physical body. Thus, trainees can try multiples times in an XR environment before operating on a body and lastly on a patient. They can also operate with multiple people which makes them more into a real-life situation they could face. Surgical tools can also be used in the XR with the help of captors which helps the students to get used to handling the needed material. Another well-made feature is the stats display : the stat of the virtual patient is changing like a real one, thus, if someone accidentally cut an artery, it can leads to the “patient death”.

AR/VR in Healthcare: Surgery, Meditation & Medical Practice | WeAR Blog
virtual patient with stats

Nevertheless, there is still room for improvements, such as the realism of the patient, of having resistance while performing the surgery. Indeed, the resistance of cutting or pinching tissues are playing an important part of the surgery, because a specific pressure needs to be applied depending on the handled tissue. Applying to much pressure can lead to cut another organ, cut too deeply or touch a nerve, which can leave great consequences to the patients. On the other hands, applying not enough pressure will require several cuts, which can leave bigger scars, a more difficult time to stitch back the tissues and a wrong cicatrization. Other features to improve can be the stats realism and accuracy and the database of possible train surgeries.

Using augmented reality (AR) to train health-care providers from virtually  anywhere - Hospital News
virtual patient on surgery block

To sum up this review, I would say that the XR in the medical field is an important topic that can improve a lot the quality of the medical students as well as the performance and the success rate of the surgery operations. It will also help to balance the shortage of the bodies that have been given for sciences purposes. However, besides its great help, we should not forget to improve its realism and try to improve this aspect graphically and physically speaking, such as replying to different pressure levels.

Latest XR hardware review

COVID-19 had dominated the year 2020 like no other. Most of the countries were forced to go into a full lockdown to prevent the widespread of that horrible virus. A silver lining here is that online communication tools became the sole viable method to communicate and interact with each other. Thanks to that, applications such as VR Chat gained a lot of popularity. Moreover, to substitute the missing physical presence, virtual reality technologies were used to host ceremony and conferences around the world. For example, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay used a virtual reality solution to host a convocation ceremony.

Unlike the traditional media, to consume XR (extended reality) contents, hardware such as head mount displays or glasses are required. Fortunately, based on my research, there are many options available for various platforms with respective price ranges that fit everyone’s needs. To help fellow enthusiasts, who don’t yet own an XR device and want to experience this amazing technology, I have listed down a few latest VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality) devices that are great in my opinion.

Latest VR devices

DevicePrice (USD)ResolutionRefresh RateFOVAudio
HP Reverb G$5992160×216090 Hz114ºOff-ear speakers
Valve Index$4991440×1600120 Hz130ºOff-ear speakers,
audio jack,
Oculus Quest 2$299 1832×192090 Hz90ºIntegrated stereo speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Oculus Rift S$3991280×144080 Hz110ºIn-line audio speakers
1x 3.5 mm audio jack
HTC Vive Cosmos$6991920×108090 Hz110ºIn-line audio speakers

If I am to buy a VR device right now, I would definitely go for an Oculus Quest 2. Despite being the latest release of the Oculus Quest product line, Oculus Quest 2 is surprisingly affordable with the starting price of only USD 299 for 64GB version, which makes it a no-brainer choice for a starter VR device. On top of that, Occulus Quest 2 is highly portable since it does not have to tether to a VR capable machine to work. It has a high resolution (1832×1920 pixels per eye) and comes with built-in audio speakers. It is also equipped with 2 non-rechargeable touch controllers that provide great comfort for gaming.

Oculus Quest 2

The downsides of Oculus Quest 2 is that you need a Facebook account to use it, and it only has access to a limited number of games on Quest Store right now. However, creating a Facebook account is free and by tethering with a single USB-C cable, Oculus Quest 2 can also function as PCVR which has access to a bigger game library. Although the controllers are not rechargeable, using rechargeable AAA batteries does the trick. All in all, Oculus Quest 2 is a solid choice for both starters and veterans who are looking for an upgrade at the start of 2021.

Latest MR devices

DevicePrice (USD)ResolutionFOV
Magic Leap One$2,2951280×196040º
Microsoft HoloLens 2$3,5002048×108052°
Nreal Light$1,0001920×108052°

Among the listed devices, my perferred choice is Microsoft HoloLens 2. Since it is a successor of the original HoloLens, it has access to the wider range of programs. Having wider field of view than most of the devices, it also support more intuitive gestures that fit around natural interactions used in day-to-day lives; think pinches, pulls and drags, unlike the original HoloLens. Being developed by Microsoft, the developer ecosystem is relatively stronger. Dynamics 365 integrations, just like office 360 integrations, will soon be available too.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

That being said Microsoft HoloLens 2 is very pricy and slightly bulkier than my confort level. It may simply because the target auidence of the devices are industry workers and the benefits for user business seems justify the cost of it. I hope that in the near future more advanced and slimer devices for mixed reality become available.