I had, in my earlier post, highlighted how augmented reality can deliver contextual performance support for enterprise job functions. While all of this sounds great, what’s really cool is when the same technology can be deployed to save lives. PFSK reported that Fraunhofer MEVIS is using Augmented Reality to remove live tumors without damaging critical vessels! Now this is an AR application that really delivers performance support where it matters the most. Here is extract from PFSK.
A new iPad app from the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS in Germany is using augmented reality technology to help surgeons remove liver tumors without damaging critical vessels within the organ. Before the surgery takes place, a CT scan is performed on the patient, allowing an accompanying software to identify and image the pathways of blood vessels. This information is then transferred to an iPad, which can be used during the surgery.
The surgeon can navigate the imaged liver to see where the vessels are, and if the camera is turned on and pointed at the exposed liver the app automatically superimposes the vessel structure of the organ onto the live picture. Liver surgery is more than a little dangerous – with so many blood vessels, one wrong cut can lead to disaster. When using augmented reality to pinpoint exactly where the surgeon needs to focus, much of the painstaking identification or guesswork is removed from the procedure.
The challenge with complex operations is that a large amount of data must be efficiently reduced so that the surgeon is always supplied with the most recent and important information. Tablet computers such as the iPad are a compact and intuitive way to allow doctors to reference this real-time data quickly and easily. Looking ahead, teams at MEVIS are working to develop navigation systems similar to those found in cars, to project data directly on the patient, and guide surgeons every step of the way. While doctors will still need to undergo rigorous training to hone their skills, technologies like this one can help eliminate much of the potential human error. This may just be the start, and the future certainly holds much more for interesting innovations using tablets and smartphones in the medical world.