At CONTEXT, in addition to providing world class data and insight into well established, multi billion dollar technology industries, we are also constantly looking to the future and keeping an eye on new emerging industries. In this series of blog posts we’ll be looking at Immersive Technology, the blanket term for virtual, augmented and mixed reality and associated techniques and specifically where it is currently being used in the workplace.
Our first industry in which immersive training is already gaining ground and may well be a game changer is Healthcare.
Immersive technologies are already working their way into the medical training environment. Medical Realities was the first to allow medical students to experience the practical realities of an operating theatre from the perspective of the surgeon via spherical video but many others are hot on their heels.
There is an expression in surgery that for rare procedures the process is often to “watch one, do one, teach one”, highlighting the fact that it is difficult to practice such activities without a certain amount of risk to patients.
In an environment where risk and liability plays a major role, any technology which allows doctors to plan and practice a technique to perfection will be warmly welcomed by the medical industry, assuming that it is able to pass the necessary regulatory hurdles.
Medical Device Integration
It is not just surgeons who will benefit from training in VR. Any specialised medical device requires strict adherence to designated procedures, the communication of which is extremely well suited to virtual reality. Rolling out new devices and procedures is no easy feat, but a fully simulated environment allows for staff to be brought up to speed as new technology is integrated into their daily workflow.
Virtamed and others are already providing physicians with the ability to practice certain device usage techniques via VR and we are likely to see more device manufacturers offering virtual training solutions in an effort to secure vital contracts.
Beyond training applications, there are increasingly sophisticated technologies for capturing rich, three dimensional patient data. As in many other industries, being able to visualise and interact with three-dimensional information makes it far easier to digest, both to the specialist and the layman.
Immersive technology not only allows medical professionals to better inspect a patient’s unique set of circumstances, but also to better communicate details to other members of the care team and even to the patient themselves.
For now, the use of headsets is likely to be limited in this use case, but as the form factor and capabilities of augmented reality devices improves, expect to see them replace many of the traditional props doctors use to explain conditions and treatments.
We’ve focused on a few ways professionals will use immersive tech and it seems more use cases will be identified as the technology develops. We’ve not even touched on therapeutic patient experiences like those from psious, Virtually Better and Bravemind which aid in the rehabilitation from anxiety, phobias, PTSD and other mental health issues.
It is clear that healthcare has been one of the first industries to open its arms to immersive technology, ripe as it is to disruption anywhere that costs and risks can be reduced while improving effective outcomes.
In the next part, we’ll look at how Immersive Technology is being used in the Automotive and Aerospace Industries.