It Is All About People

In his presentation on the InsideAR 2014 stage, AREA member Carl Byers of NGRAIN Corporation shared with the audience his conclusion that Augmented Reality is “all about people.” When in the middle of a technology-centric event taking place in the center of the densest AR-populated region of the world (Munich, Germany), it is important to reframe why all activities and investments matter: Augmented Reality helps people to see digital data in context.

The “all about people” guideline applies in medicine as well. Improving patient outcomes is at the heart of Dr. Kavin Andi’s research at St. George’s Hospital at the University of London.

Dr. Andi is an oral and maxillofacial surgery consultant who also practices microvascular reconstructive facial plastic surgery. In his InsideAR presentation Dr. Andi explained how Augmented Reality could provide value to:

  • Designing and communicating tumor removal and reconstructive processes
  • Detecting airway obstruction
  • Planning bone and tissue harvesting

The presentation also introduced some of the many tools surgeons use to achieve positive patient outcomes. Some tools are physical: scalpel, saw, clamps and hoses of many types. And others use software. In addition to the many credentials he has earned in his journey from molecular biology to reconstructive surgery, Dr. Andi has invested heavily in mastering the use of a dozen different software products in a graphics pipeline.

Beginning with scans of patient bodies, the processes he has defined permit surgeons to better prepare for surgery. By studying and planning procedures to be performed in the operating theater in minute detail in advance, the time spent in the actual theater is reduced. 

Patient scanning is highly sophisticated, involving measurements of tumor and bone density, blood flow and other critical factors. But as in other fields where big data is accessible to the expert, the data needs to be accompanied with analytical tools, and in the case of surgery with real time visualization.

The first gap Dr. Andi needs technology to address is advanced segmentation. Better segmentation of the data will separate the volume of the tumor from the surrounding area that is affected. Then, with this data superimposed on the patient, Augmented Reality can help surgeons and assistants—and ultimately the patient—to visualize the proposed treatment.

Leaving diseased tissue in the patient, or removing too much tissue due to low accuracy visualization can impact patient outcomes. That is why surgeons also need (for registration and tracking with hands-free displays) to have sub-millimeter accuracy on deforming surfaces.

When this can be achieved, Dr. Andi envisages that he and other surgeons will be able to perform complex procedures with 3D digital overlay on the patient instead of constantly referring to a display on the side.

To learn more, watch Dr. Andi’s InsideAR 2014 presentation below.

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