Covid-19
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Front-Line Doctors Use Mixed Reality to Help COVID-19 Patients

Doctors at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust tested Microsoft Hololens mixed reality interfaces to minimize health workers' exposure to COVID-19 and reduce the expenditure of vital PPE equipment.

Mixed and augmented reality products have gained popularity amid the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, and a project with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust at the helm has seen doctors wearing Microsoft Hololens headsets while working the front lines of the coronavirus crisis to enhance care for patients, according to an IDTechEx report shared with Interesting Engineering.

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Microsoft Hololens on the frontlines COVID-19 outbreak

The use case for this development at Imperial College in London involves only the doctor treating their COVID-19 patient in person, while a team of clinicians sit in another room and view a live video feed from the doctor via Microsoft Teams. In other words, remote assistance offered to Hololens users for maintenance, manufacturing, and other applications is now active in the medical field.

With the devices, staff minimized the time required in a high-risk area 83%. Moreover, this reduces the use of PPE, since fewer clinicians need to be present with a patient to offer health care.

Mixed reality applications, integration, 'spatial reality'

Increased use of mixed and augmented reality in hospitals was widely discussed for years. Surgeons, for example, might study overlays of X-rays or even simulate meticulous operations before the real operation. To help the rapid development and deployment of the Hololens at Imperial College, Medical iSight played a crucial role in ensuring correct security between the Hololens and Remote Assist technology.

Medical iSight also worked to ensure good network capabilities and management of the NHS trust, and optimized the device for ease of clinical integration — doctors need to interface as seamlessly as possible to provide adequate patient care. The instinctive user interface is even more paramount amid the high-stakes context of providing care to patience in high-risk hospital wards (where coronavirus cases are sent).

Mixed reality is only one part of a larger "spatial reality" family, according to IDTechEx. One day, more use cases like those of the Hololens will turn up, and IDTechEx predicts the augmented reality market to grow to more than $30 billion by 2030 — mainly from wider industry application of devices in new and high-impact cases like the COVID-19 crisis.

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