Mixed Reality In A Time Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

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Recently the versatility of mixed and augmented reality products has come to the forefront of the news, with an Imperial led projectat the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Doctors have been wearing the Microsoft Hololens headsets whilst working on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, to aid them in their care for their patients. IDTechEx have previously researched this market area in its report Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality 2020-2030: Forecasts, Markets and Technologies”, which predicts the market to be $30Bn by 2030. This article discusses the use case in the Imperial Project.

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The use case for this project allows other clinicians to sit in another room, and by using Microsoft Teams, see a live video feed of the doctor who is treating the COVID-19patients. This is utilising the remote assistance aspects which have been previously used by Hololens users for manufacturing, maintenance, and other similar applications. By using the devices, staff reduced the amount of time they must spend in a high-risk area by 83%. Not only this, they are using less PPE, as fewer clinicians are in the room during patient care.

The Use Of Mixed Reality In A Hospital Setting

The use of mixed and augmented reality in a hospital setting has been discussed for several years, with surgeons for example, being able to view overlays of xrays or simulating operations before the actual event. To support the rapid development of the Hololens for this use case, MedicaliSight provided an important role to ensure that the Hololens and Remote Assist has the correct security, management and network capabilities of the NHS trust. It also ensured that the device is easy for clinical adoption – the user must be able to instinctively use the device. These instinctive use cases are even more important in a high stakes environment such as caring for patients on a high-risk ward.

Mixed reality is just one part of the “Spatial reality” family, the others including augmented and virtual reality devices. In the future, more use cases such as those of the Hololens will be found, and IDTechEx predicts this market to be over $30Bn by 2030, and part of this will come from an uptake of devices used in these novel, high impact use cases.