Mixed Reality for Healthcare: Experiences from a Training Perspective

Mention trai­ning in medical educa­tion and most people picture class­room courses or e-learning semi­nars. But trai­ning should be more: it should be a learning concept that attracts parti­ci­pants to remember what they have spent the time to learn whilst provi­ding the trai­ners with and effi­cient way to teach. Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality’s bring  new possi­bi­li­ties to attract students to learn, and to provide infor­ma­tion to the trai­ners and orga­ni­zers. This will help to increase the quality of trai­nings in the future.

Difference of Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality

Before a discus­sion can start about medical content for Mixed Reality, it is necessary to first clarify the term “Mixed Reality”. You will find diffe­rent defi­ni­tions for Mixed Reality (MR), often in close rela­tion to Augmented Reality (AR). With Augmented Reality you are able to attach digital infor­ma­tion like texts, videos, sounds, graphics or 3D models to real objects.

Mixed Reality Training Digital Hospital

In Mixed Reality, holo­gra­phic objects are projected into the real world to create a hybrid of the two. Both the virtual and real objects can coexist toge­ther or the virtual elements can overlay the real world entirely.

Mixed Reality is ready – content is missing

There are already plenty of low and high content apps for diffe­rent medical appli­ca­tions featuring Augmented Reality in opera­tion. You will also find many compa­nies inter­na­tio­nally that are crea­ting 3D medical content for AR. However, this content is predo­mi­nantly only being used on smart­phones and tablets.

When you start to look for medical content for Mixed Reality, nearly nothing can be found so far. The main reason might be that are only a few readily avail­able Mixed Reality devices on the market such as the Micro­soft Holo­Lens or the Meta 2 from the Silicon Valley tech company Meta.

Need for more medical apps

Working with the Holo­Lens in the medical field opened my eyes to the possi­bi­li­ties for medical provi­ders and pati­ents alike. I quickly started to get more infor­ma­tion about avail­able medical content for Mixed Reality tech­no­lo­gies and I haven’t stoped looking. Even though there are already a few specific medical apps avail­able for the Holo­Lens, e.g. HoloHeart and Holo­Ana­tomy (Micro­soft) or Insight Heart (AnimaRes) with impres­sive visua­li­za­tions, there is much more poten­tial for the content. Exactly this has lead to medical soft­ware plat­form provi­ders such as 3D4MEDICAL to develop Mixed Reality solu­tions for anatomy trai­ning in a project called “Esper”.

PulsioFlexAR – a training application for the digital hospital

This lack of content lead us to create our own Holo­lens app, the result can be watched here:

To create this Holo­Lens appli­ca­tion I found a great partner and supporter in the company RE´FLEKT. When looking for part­ners to create custo­mized medical content for Mixed Reality, you might be asto­nished to discover the signi­fi­cant diffe­rences in costs and time for content crea­tion. In this project, I was happy to find a solu­tion that could be scabbily built up for future growth in a cost and time effec­tive way.

Mixed reality – future of medical education

After video gaming, Goldman Sachs expects the biggest growth poten­tial in Virtual Reality to be in the health care sector. This should already be a crucial argu­ment for more compa­nies to focus here. Crea­ting specific medical content for Mixed Reality is already possible with a certain budget and I hope to see more 3D medical anima­tion compa­nies offe­ring Mixed Reality content in the near future. This tech­no­logy will defi­ni­tely become a part of the stan­dard medical educa­tion and also a helpful tool in certain medical applications.

If you have similar expe­ri­ences with this topic, it would be great to share your thoughts and ideas!

About the author

Already during her PhD in natural science at the Tech­nical Univer­sity Munich, Martina Reiter was working as trainer for labo­ra­tory courses. After she finished her doctoral thesis, she founded a biotech­no­logy start-up company to offer lab trai­nings and services toge­ther with her doctoral advisor. The last 12 years Martina Reiter was working as trai­ning and project manager in life science and medical device industry.

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