Technological innovation in the medical field is certainly one of the trend topics of greatest interest that sees important investments by public and private entities.
With the advent of the 4.0 era, attention has shifted to the potential positive effects that the use of virtual and augmented reality-based systems can bring to medicine.
In addition, since this January telemedicine has been officially integrated into the National Health Service, finally giving a push towards the use of technologies capable of breaking down barriers due to physical distance.
AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY: DIFFERENCES AND DEFINITIONS
Augmented reality enriches reality with a whole series of information that overlaps things that the eyes see in front of their field of view, thus adding multimedia elements that actually do not exist allowing users to live a unique interactive experience. Augmented reality enriches the human experience thanks to technological mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, with which it is possible to observe virtual elements and interact with our reality.
Virtual reality, on the other hand, creates a totally new world that exists nowhere but in the “reality” to which it belongs. To pick up textbook definitions, we could say that virtual reality combines hardware and software devices that work together to create a virtual space within which the user can move freely. It is a simulated reality, that is built on a computer, of a virtual and three-dimensional world that appears real and makes the user experience totally immersive experiences.
So, while in the case of augmented reality it is the virtual world that “enter” the real world, in the case of virtual reality we are the one who “enter” a new world.
VIRTUAL REALITY AND MEDICINE: FIELDS OF
When it comes to virtual reality (VR) the combination with the world of gaming is almost natural, but in reality the applications in the medical field are multiple and of great interest to the scientific world. Just think that the investments in virtual reality devices in the medical field reached 2.5 billion euros at the end of 2020.
Examples of virtual reality application in healthcare can be related to:
AUGMENTED REALITY AND APPLICATION IN THE MEDICAL FIELD
An acceleration in the use of augmented reality in the medical field has occurred in recent months thanks to the spread of 5G networks. In fact, in order to use augmented reality in a sensitive sector such as medical, it is necessary to have an ultra-powerful and stable connection.
The innovation brought about by augmented reality allows to work remotely, breaking down physical and spatial barriers. Here are some examples of application in the medical and health field.
AUGMENTED REALITY AND REMOTE ULTRASOUND MANAGEMENT
Augmented reality technology provides the doctor with a tool to get ‘live’ remote support from other colleagues and collaborators in real time. The doctor, equipped with Smart Glasses, with a medical team that visually shares the same operating theatre and participates remotely in the activities carried out in the field, is thus supported to carry out his intervention more effectively.
Another element of innovation related to augmented reality is the surgical robot, a robotic platform that allows you to perform complex and high-precision minimally invasive interventions.
It is becoming a fixed presence in operating rooms, but it is not a robot equipped with artificial intelligence: it is not able to make autonomous decisions, but is controlled remotely by a real surgeon who chooses how and when to use it.
The advantages deriving from the use of the surgical robot are different: it does not leave extensive scars, reduces hospital times and allows faster post-operative recovery.
Its main fields of application are urology, general surgery, cardiac surgery and gynaecology.
Although the use of these technologies is still in the experimental phase, it is clear that in the near future their use will be daily. These are classic examples of how technological innovations are and must serve people needs and how their use might effectively improve the quality of life.