AR Kit in healthcare: A new ray of hope
July 28, 2021
9 min read
AR and AR technology
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that gives 2D and 3D experiences to images taken from a device’s camera, giving it an original feel, like the objects are present in reality. It is an amalgamation of motion tracking, advanced screen processing, camera screen capture, and advanced displays.
To illustrate an easy example of AR, one may be familiar with reality games like ‘Pokémon Go’ which made quite a headline back in 2017. It enabled gamers to hunt, photograph, and capture Pokémon using their smartphone’s camera. As interesting as it sounds, this technology is getting considerable attention, majorly from the healthcare industry due to its vital usage.
An iOS device enables users to make these experiences come to life using a front or rear camera. Its framework possesses the features of making it highly acceptable to the healthcare system. ARKit is a software development kit from Apple that is explicitly devised to handle important tasks associated with motion detection, environment detection, and interactive visuals in a real environment.
Its core features include;
- Motive and position tracking
- Augmented reality framework
- Face tracking
- Compatible with third-party development tools
- A 3D map for hyper-local location finding
AR in healthcare
Medical students can have detailed interactive sessions with virtual 3D anatomical models placed right at their front desk due to plane detection apps. Models like Virtual Inertial Odometry enable students to visualize 3D models from various distances and angles, making medical learning understandable. This technology stays true to reality, and so a bolt of ambient lightning ensures that visuals viewed in space are presented with the right brightness and specifications.
A strong understanding of organ anatomy, functions, and regulation is important for medical education. However, with some organs such as the heart, brain, the liver being complex, the ease of studying these concepts becomes difficult just the textbook way. In a recent study published in March 2021 in the Medical Science educator journal, 74 students participated in a survey that compared traditional textbook learning and AR learning. The topic of discussion was veterinary cardiac anatomy, wherein 60-minutes cadaveric learning was included and guided by textbook learning or AR learning. The results revealed that 83.3% of the medical students reported better learning through AR than the traditional method. Studies like these pave ways for AR technology to increase enthusiasm and interaction within the students.
Here are a few AR technology benefits in the healthcare industry:
- Drug development is a tedious process that starts with discovering thousands of leads to a solid drug market. However, the story does not end with drug formulations. Rather, it is a start to a new process. Concepts like drug-drug interaction, Drug-biomolecule interaction, drug mode of actions need to be thoroughly studied. AR technology provides a scope to view these interactions in a 3-D format.
- It also offers opportunities to study and monitor experiments in the lab closely. For example, the interaction between salts, microscopic images, and biochemical processes can be studied interactively by using this technology.
- One can even get hands-on training on medical equipment and devices without even using them in real life. With this current pandemic forcing us to stay indoors and study in captivity, models like these make classroom study easy at home.
- AR technology can also be a visual assistant while conducting surgeries or performing real-time incisions as it reduces the risks associated with complex, time-consuming surgeries. These, when combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI), have been detected to increase the efficiency and accuracy of surgeries.
AR development needs skills and expertise. Apart from knowledge, supportive tools also need to be devised. In addition, these tools need to incorporate advanced features of functionality, 3D graphics, and innovative technology. Here are a few apps that have been recommended for AR development.
It is solely developed by Apple and so is not supportive of android smartphones. AR is supportive due to the advanced tech features available on iOS. The camera sensor data, gyroscope, and accelerometer information are hardcore components that aid in detecting and analyzing a user’s environment for AR visualization. ARKit is also devised to support face tracking, motion tracking, and quick look displays to bring out the best experience. ARKit tutorials have been made available by Apple to those new to this technology.
This is an open-source tool that can be used from any device. Its versatility makes it usable on Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, and OS X. This tool enables tracking planar images, quick and easy camera calibrations, natural feature marker generation and makes several plugin options with unity.
It is a software developer kit that supports the creation of marker-based and markerless AR. Its key features include;
Visual camera– supports visuals that are beyond smartphones and tablets,
Ground plane– adds content to horizontal surfaces,
VuMarks– custom markers for face recognition and also encode data.
This application is an analog of ARKit. But unlike ARKit, which is supportive of iOS, ARCore is devised by Google for Android devices. Its hardcore features include light calibration, surface detection, augmented images, and motion tracking. However, Google has restricted making a list of ARCore supportive devices applicable on its site.
It is another AR software development tool new in the market. Wikitude can be used for iOS, Apple, and smart glasses devices. Apart from motion tracking and visuals, its key features include cloud recognition, geolocation, and distance-based features.
AR APPs- Augmented reality apps in 2021
You may not be aware, but the smartphones you use may incorporate AR in them. one may be a frequent user of AR tools and features without even being aware of its existence. These apps are compatible with iOS and Android.
– Google lens
Google’s computing cloud gives it the power of identifying texts, objects, images, landmarks, and details present in your photographs to assemble more information.
– Just a line
A doodling concept that brings your drawing into reality. Google has utilized its ARCore developer programs to design and create just a line. It’s a simple tool that asks one to create drawings beyond imagination which then can be captured and shared with friends.
– Mission to Mars
Ever imagined what it takes to live on another planet? You may not be related to astronomy, but the experience of living on mars can be a reality through AR. One can hold their mission by launching a rocket to land and have their steps on mars, all through goggled-eyes. With this, we do not mean to travel to mass but rather experience how it would look.
– Google maps
Navigation has become much easier with the introduction of google maps. One can add a virtual sign to navigate the destination by simply pointing to arrows giving a live location. And this is a perfect example of how AR can run beyond visuals and photography.
Your kids will have fun when you color a picture that seems to be present in real. Quiver is an app that enables one to download cartoon characters and pictures or educational images that can be printed and colored easily. Once the picture is ready, aim the app onto it and experience your colored picture coming into reality.
It is a language learning app that particularly assists ARKit and ARCore enabled devices. For example, a language learner can engage through chatbots and visualization to learn dynamic concepts related to learning pronunciation and avoiding errors.
Why is AR a cutting-edge technology?
AR is usually associated with tech-related concepts, but recently, these technologies have become a part of our daily lives. Having discussed so many AR technologies is a detail we can perhaps call a cutting edge technology. The reason is that this technology has been efficiently incorporated into various facets of our lives. Let’s ponder on these aspects.
- AR has tremendous respect in the gaming industry for visualizing real-time effects. The story began in 2000 when ARQuake launched a game that required the players to wear head-mounted displays and backpacks with electrical computers and gyroscopes to play a game. Then came the famous game Pokémon go that excited the use of AR in the gaming industry. Finally, in 2019, Niantic and Warner Brothers released a Harry Potter game called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite where AR technology was involved in learning potions, spells, and charms.
- IKEA is a famous Swedish Multinational furniture store that provides an AR catalog app that enables the users to visualize furniture by viewing the setting and fitting the items. In this way, AR technology is also finding its way into e-commerce for a personalized experience.
- In construction, one can take advantage of AR technology to measure practical dimensions and project modifications. As a result, the project managers can easily understand the accurate dimensions required to set interiors and work best with the fittings.
- In cinema, sci-fi movies are backed with AR technology if you remember Avatar, one of the highest budget movies released in 2D, 3D, and various formats that incorporated augmented reality into the computer generated imagery world. All you require is a smartphone connected to the internet with camera software.
- AR also finds its way in prints wherein a picture can be brought to reality through a newspaper, ad catalog, or magazine. In some cases, the picture can be scanned from a print, wherein it gets played into a video on the successful scan.
AR projects and application in the healthcare
AR technology is not limited to screens, but today, it has also found an exceptional use during interventions and procedures in the medical industry. Here is some significant application of AR in the healthcare industry:
Augmented reality to revolutionize the health care system:
– Saves lives in times of emergency!
Imagine someone next to you with sudden seizures. It would be best if you took the right decision while overcoming your emotions to seek medical help. However, when you search for contacts and make an emergency call, a lot of time can get wasted.
Now consider downloading an app combined with basic emergency numbers if you get into the same situation. This app will enable your current location and contact the closest AEDs, and an emergency hep will reach you within seconds. If you think such an app doesn’t exist, then you need to read about the Layar Reality browser combined with the AED4EU app that serves the same purpose.
– Virtual meeting with the physician!
If you reside miles away and find it difficult to visit your primary physician for a routine checkup, AR technology can easily ease it. AR video conferencing can make meets and regular checkups feasible if the specialist in hand has a virtual app through which it can follow the instructions sent by the professional.
– Lactation tutorials help new breastfeeding mothers!
A Melbourne-based innovation company has come up with google glass technology to educate and train new mothers for breastfeeding their child at home. They even conducted a trial in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding operation. With this insight struggling mothers can get expert help to breastfeed their newborns throughout the day.
– Visual assistance with surgery!
Since surgeries have a high mortality rate, the introduction of this technology can lower the complication and mortality associated with risky surgeries. In addition, AR technology can assist doctors and specialists by providing them details while conducting delicate procedures. For example, the visuals can help a surgeon locate the position of organs, associated veins and diagnose the complications while performing surgeries.
– Help in diagnosis!
Many times, patients misunderstand their symptoms and therefore cause the wrong diagnosis of their condition. AR can help patients better describe their symptoms as AR technology can make them understand these symptoms well. For instance, an AR ophthalmology app called EyeDecide uses a camera that displays the stimulation of a specific eye condition, thereby enabling better patient education. So, in this case, if a patient is suffering from a cataract, he will better understand the stimulation of the disease and will understand the impact of this condition on his eye.
– AR in the drug development process!
Imagine having a clear picture of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a drug? Mostly, studying the interaction of drugs with the body is a concept that cannot be visualized. But AR technology makes this imaginary concept come to reality displaying the 3D working of a pill.
– A guide to Phlebotomists!
There are cases wherein it becomes difficult to find the exact position of the vein to draw out blood. An app called AccuVein makes the use of AR that helps the Phlebotomist, nurses, and doctor to identify the position of the vein by scanning onto the skin.
– Interactive tool for anatomy!
Imagine not studying anatomy on prints but rather in a 3D manner. AR makes this process interactive and engaging because one can even locate the tiniest vein and understand its dynamics better. Furthermore, as students understand the concepts more clearly, their interest in anatomy and functioning can increase, making them lured to the subject.
The bottom line!
AR technology finds its way in numerous industries. It is a technology that has revolutionized the face of technology. Be it e-commerce, construction, cinema, print media, or healthcare, and this technology has left a mark in every field. However, the healthcare industry is an important sector that needs considerable attention from these technological advancements. The current market size of AR is suggested to be $16.8 billion and is expected to grow to $160 billion in the next two years.
COVID-19 pandemic was something we expected to occur but not to experience. Our health care system needs to be locked with the right technological facilities to be prepared for such unprecedented times in the future. Therefore, the medical force needs to be better prepared, trained, and qualified to stand as warriors during human tests.
AR is a technology that will aid in interactively training medical students. It is a virtual assistant that helps medical experts in surgeries, therapies, and processes to improve individuals’ life quality. Tech companies like Apple and Google make it big by incorporating these technologies into the real world by making it a task performed by an average person.
However, one also needs to consider the steps to ensure confidentiality and security because much personal data is involved in this technology. With the right caution and policies intact, this technology can hit the market increasing survivability and quality of life. This is simply the start, and we hope that augmented reality in healthcare will change the face of the future and the medical organization. Breakthrough discoveries like these should be appreciated and backed by the high institutions to provide new insights into diagnosing a condition.
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