Purdue Team Taps Into Augmented Reality For Medical Tech

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(Image courtesy of Purdue University.) (Image courtesy of Purdue University.)
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A team at Purdue University is using technology most commonly associated with gaming to assist in potentially life-saving situations. The augmented reality system gives doctors who lack experience a remote helping hand from more experienced surgeons and physicians. Health care workers in the field -- war zones, disaster areas, rural areas -- use an AR headset that connects with mentor professionals who are using a large video screen to assess the situations and provide feedback. The system can also be coupled with unmanned vehicle technology to bolster the scope of observations.

In an interview in the Business of Health, project team lead and Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering Juan Wachs told Reporter Kylie Veleta the technology helps newer doctors when they need it most. "Medics wear these see-through displays -- these glasses -- with cameras that capture the views of the casualties and those views are sent directly to the expert -- to surgeons at the, say, a trauma hospital," he explains. "The experts look at these images in a large interaction table. They discuss the cases, they perform annotations, they move their hands, they put surgical instruments, virtual instruments, real instruments. Those instruments and annotations are sent back to the medic and the medic can see these virtual instruments combined with reality -- with the view of the patient at the same time -- and can operate following the instructions that they are receiving from the experts."

The research into the tech has been supported by the U.S. Department of Defense and it has already completed an initial round of clinical evaluation. It requires additional evaluation and will be tested on a simulated battle field by the U.S. Navy at a base in Virginia during the next few months. You can connect to more about the technology by clicking here.

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