Medical technology is changing faster than it ever has before, and it's now clear Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will play a role in the standard care we receive.
The promise of the technologies is astounding. It won't be long before a nurse can read your diagnostics at a glance thanks to an AR headset. As research into mindfulness and the brain's ameliorative power advances, new VR applications will offer anesthesia-intolerant patients opportunities for pain-free surgeries.
But what usually gets lost in conversations about the promise of these technologies is the current generation of mixed reality applications that are in use in healthcare today.
AR and VR have already begun making inroads into surgical suites, medical training, doctor's offices, and home care situations. If you have a child with autism or you're training to be surgeon, there's a good chance you've already encountered them in some form.
With that in mind, here are three AR/VR companies whose healthcare products are in use today.
Boston-based VRHealth makes immersive VR games, movies, and exercise scenarios for use in clinical settings and at home.
The logic is that the transportive experience of VR can virtually whisk patients away and encourage specific behaviors that can be hard to repeat in sterile hospital environments. Every move a patient makes is analyzed and quantified, which enables patients and clinicians to, capture baselines, track recovery, and utilize new information to personalize treatment.
VRHealth is the first VR healthcare company in the world that is ISO-certified and all its medical applications are FDA Authorized.
As harrowing as it is to get stuck with an IV needle, the experience is tenfold more trying for early-career medical staff.
AccuVein, an early pioneer of AR medicine, makes a device that scans a patient's skin and locates veins, allowing for easier (and less painful) placement of needles. The flagship AccuVein AV400, according to the company, digitally displays a map of the vasculature on the surface of the skin in real time. That allows clinicians to reliably choose a target, so to speak.
AccuVein's visualization technology purportedly increases the likelihood of a successful first stick 3.5 times.
Israel-based Augmedics, founded in 2014, created a surgical technology that overlays spinal information on the spine of a patient via a headset.
The AR display combines the digital and physical worlds to effectively allow surgeons to look underneath a spinal patient's skin. It's the closest think you can find to X-ray vision in the real world.
Like the AccuVein systems, Augmedics' xvision allows users to view the anatomy of a patient without incisions, which enables them to perform more procedures externally or through minimally invasive surgeries.
Billed as "see through surgery," the xvision system employs transparent AR displays from Lumus, a company that makes many of the see-through AR lenses for high quality commercial headsets.