AR Healthcare: Augmented Reality in Medicine

Hardly any other task requires as much sensitivity as a medical procedure. The surgeons have to perform millimetre-exact work on their patients, whether they are working on the spinal column, minimally invasive or straightening a bone. Any distraction must be avoided. Despite all of this, they need to look at the x-ray or camera image that is displayed on the monitor to get ahead. With Augmented Reality, this can soon be a thing of the past.


As a futurist, I have to be able to dare to look to the future. Not like a fortune-teller, but by interpreting the signals of our time. It is therefore not unrealistic that augmented reality will make its way into the operating room in the next five years. The ideal scenario is that the surgeon puts his data glasses on and gets a glimpse of the patient’s body. What has been running on the separate monitors and devices so far, is now right in the field of view. Vital signs, x-rays, clues and recommendations. Sounds like a futuristic dream, doesn’t it?


AR Healthcare today


Phlips Augmented Reality medical solution (Source: Philips)


A recent announcement by Philips makes this scenario more tangible. They have developed a new type of navigation technology for minimally invasive spinal surgery. Using optical tracking systems, information from the patient and live images of the body are delivered to monitors in the operating room, which show the surgeon exactly where he or she needs to start in order to achieve the best result.


“This unique augmented-reality technology is an example of how we expand our capabilities with innovative solutions in growth areas such as spine, neuro and trauma surgery,” Ronald Tabaksblat, Business Leader Image-Guided Therapy Systems at Philips


Even if no headset is mentioned in the announcement, adapting the technology to data glasses, such as the HoloLens, is not far from reality.

AR Healtchare an der TUM
AR Healthcare at TU Munich (Source: TUM)


In order to establish this connection, a cooperation with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) would be possible. For years now, experiments have been conducted there with Augmented Reality in surgery.


“We are working on systems that make patient information and what is currently happening visible at a glance and in real time”, Nassir Navab, Chair of Informatics Applications in Medicine & Augmented Reality in an interview with VDI Nachrichten


Up to now, the TUM has used the so-called Camera Augmented Mobile C-Arm (CamC), which takes up to twelve x-ray images and places them on the data glasses. With Philips’ more sophisticated technology and the experience of the Technical University, the future scenario “AR Healthcare” can quickly become reality.



Post picture: Philips

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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