Augmented reality integrates digital information with the user’s environment in real time and is becoming more accessible and affordable for medical education and imaging, dentistry, and nurse training.
Augmented Reality and Its Application in Health Care
Augmented reality (AR) is the art of superimposing computer-generated content over a live view of the world. AR integrates digital information with the user’s environment in real time and is becoming more accessible and affordable for medical education and imaging, dentistry, and nurse training. AccuVein, VIPAR, ARnatomy, and VA-ST are among the available AR solutions for health care.
Health Care-Focused AR Apps
Health care-focused AR apps in the Android and Apple stores include:
AR Technology Is in Nascent Stages of Market Penetration
The AR market, is in its early development stage but is growing quickly—especially in the last two years. Diverse AR content from various fields and more affordable consumer solutions are expected in the next five years. AR enterprise applications and subscriptions will boost revenue for start-ups.
Many industries are expected to turn to AR as the primary source of multisensory instruction and for the of standard operating procedures for workforce safety. Medical education and staff training is bound to remain the principal use of AR in health care.
Behavioral and psychological health problems are being addressed through AR technologies that create engaging and motivational environments; immersive technologies also are fostering empathy between patients and their caregivers and helping in understanding and treatment of diseases. The USC Center for Body Computing, for example, has devised a Virtual Care Clinic system that combines AR, analytics, and artificial intelligence technologies with mobile apps, wearable sensors, and virtual human health care providers to give patients comprehensive access to medical care and content from anywhere in the world. The system features an app for connecting patients with an avatar of their primary physician that guides patients through the different courses of their medical care.
Privacy Concerns and Depth Perception Challenges Need to Be Resolved for Widespread Adoption of AR Technology
Privacy issues are the main barrier to AR technology’s widespread adoption in the health care industry. Doctors worry about Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance because data transmitted to AR devices is not encrypted, making confidential patient information vulnerable.
Depth perception also is another concern. It is an important component of many augmented reality applications and many times and AR displays do not display the depth of virtual objects with the same fidelity as real objects. Therefore technical issues such depth perception, developing robust registration and tracking methods, designing interactive user interfaces to intuitively control virtual and real parts of the scene and integrating AR technology into medical workflows, needs to be resolved for widespread adoption of this technology.
What Is the Future?
The AR market will resemble the smartphones market, thus targeting a huge population worldwide. The AR ecosystem is witnessing an influx of software and hardware manufacturers and mobile data and voice businesses, with a large number of mergers and acquisitions already. This reflects the immense interest in this technology from all quarters.
AR companies must address regulatory and privacy concerns to be successful in the health care space, which will benefit from AR-assisted surgeries, staff training, and in-patient behavioral and rehabilitation programs
By 2020, the health care industry will be among the first to realize the benefits of AR technologies on human behavior, patient experience, and lifesaving interventions. By 2025, consumers will be able to thoroughly analyze their health and well-being in real time through AR-based apps, giving them a snapshot of how time and unhealthy lifestyles would affect their bodies.
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