New Augmented Reality Platform Could Help Save Lives in Combat and Other Crisis Areas

Engineers at Purdue University hope to leverage augmented reality (AR) to save lives in dangerous situations like combat or natural disasters. The team presented their new developments at the 2018 Military Health Research Symposium.

The system they’ve developed links an on-scene medical professional with the world’s leading experts through a headset worn by the physically present medic. In time, this method could replace the somewhat unwieldy telestrators that characterize real-time telemedicine today. In that sense, the project is a clear step toward world-class medical care distributed to those in high-stress situations everywhere, no matter how remote.

The Purdue system uses a transparent headset screen that gives the present medic the ability to see the patient in front of them overlaid with feedback from the off-site expert. The consulting expert, who might be anywhere in the world, uses an interactive video monitor that displays the patient and allows feedback to be given in real time. Even more impressive, the system uses vision algorithms to ensure that procedural notes are displayed in the relevant location in the operating doctor’s field of view. In other words, the headset helps organize the information from the mentor in a way that’s easy to understand for the mentee. This naturally increases effectiveness and reduces the likelihood of mistakes in a situation in which a patient’s life could hang in the balance.

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