Is augmented reality the future of surgery?

Written by: Dassault Systems UK Ltd | Published:

Cheaper. Faster. Safer. When it comes to transforming medical surgery, those are the targets. Augmented reality has the exciting potential to tick all three boxes.

Meet Rafael Grossmann…

He’s a self-proclaimed healthcare futurist.

He’s done multiple TEDx talks.

Back in the summer of 2013, Rafael J. Grossmann Zamora made history by becoming the first doctor ever to use Google Glass during live surgery. Back then, this luminary advocate of healthcare technology, eulogised about the potential for digital technology to transform surgical training and surgical performance.

“The role of Glass as a surgical and teaching tool is tremendous,” Grossmann explained in a 2013 interview with Forbes. “This is only the beginning. New applications – some we can’t even imagine yet – will help transform surgery and the surgical experience.”

Technologies from Google (Glass), headsets from the likes of Microsoft (HoloLens) and the dawn of digital contact lenses stand to revolutionise medicine. Safe in the knowledge that the applications of this burgeoning technology extend way beyond Pokémon Go, what can we expect from augmented reality in the operating theatre?

Could augmented reality change the world?

At your nearest hospital, dozens – maybe even hundreds – of operations take place every day. It’s a miracle of modern medicine. Yet 67% of the world’s population does not have access to safe surgery.

Here to help is Proximie.

They say the best way to learn is to do. The second best way? Watch an expert. Proximie allows trainee surgeons to access live feeds of operations thousands of miles away, in real-time, via smartphone or tablet. Students can type questions to surgeons – which appear as an overlay on their mobile devices – who can answer via an audio link.

Proximie can also be used to guide surgeons in the developing world as they carry out their procedures. It has the ability to connect in real-time a trainee surgeon with an experienced consultant, who can guide the trainee through the procedure using voice, or text-based overlays. It’s revolutionary stuff and it could transform medicine in the developing world.

Grossmann was right when he predicted in 2013 that his use of Google Glass was merely the tip of the iceberg, in terms of the positive influence digital technology could have on medicine. With the increasingly widespread adoption of augmented reality among surgeons and trainees, the future of surgery has the potential to be safer and more efficient than ever before.

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