Recently, augmented reality (AR) has been widely adopted in computer gaming, robotics, education, visual arts, urban design, industrial manufacturing, architecture, commerce, and other areas of human activities and leisure. It is often used alongside virtual reality (VR). Beyond all doubt, medicine opens vast possibilities to the development of this groundbreaking technology. Healthcare software development companies all over the world have been successfully cooperating with leading healthcare institutions to create new solutions in this area of expertise. In this article, we’ll outline the ways AR is used in modern medicine, its benefits for both doctors and patients, and the necessity of healthcare software development in this field.
What is AR?
Augmented reality is based on the intersection of the real and the digital. The vision of the physical world is enhanced with computer-generated images superimposed over a live view of the things around us. Although AR is mainly associated with digital imagery, it applies not only to visual perception; sometimes it covers different sensory modalities, including olfactory, haptic, auditory, and somatosensory. One should differentiate AR from VR: AR enhances our perception of the environment we live in by adding new details, whereas VR completely substitutes it with a simulated version. However, as an outcome of their combination, representatives of various branches of knowledge and industrial sectors obtain a highly innovative tech solution with extensive perspectives of usage.
Advantages of AR in Healthcare
Augmented reality in healthcare covers different areas of medical expertise including dentistry, neurosurgery, pharmacology, and others. For example, ARAS (augmented reality-assisted surgery) improves the surgeon’s experience by superimposing a digital overlay on the view of the operative field. Dentists can profit from AR software whose precision allows them to produce perfect crowns and caps. The number of AR apps developed for Apple and Android devices is constantly growing as healthcare software development companies keep on examining the market and offering new products, including custom solutions.
Here are some crucial benefits of AR technology for the healthcare industry:
- Medical education and training. AR helps medical students to gain knowledge of anatomy through three-dimensional images. Healthcare trainees and specialists can also acquire the necessary information on vital bodily functions and processes through the visualization of bones, muscles, and internal organs.
- Enhanced access to the patient’s data. Doctors can get quick access to vital information such as virtual X-rays or real-time images from microscopy probes, to name a few. They are shown on a special display panel and may be overlaid with other important information.
- Visualization. An AR device provides holographic visualization of the patient’s body thus helping a doctor to carry out certain surgical procedures. Among interesting cases of AR practical implementation is vein visualization. AccuVein locates the veins by projecting the image onto the screen with a near-infrared vein finder.
- Assistance for people with disabilities or special needs. Augmented reality can become a good helper for those who need assistance. For instance, the AR app Dorothy designated for people with memory problems facilitates navigation through the house and reminds them of important tasks. Another example of a useful AR solution is augmented-reality glasses for the visually impaired. They make it possible to identify nearby objects and people, which substantially improves the quality of life.
- Remote assistance and expertise. AR makes it possible for a surgeon to receive support or guidance from a peer abroad. During operations, remote doctors can assist their local colleagues in real time. It also helps to attract highly skilled overseas specialists without additional expenses on business trips, flights, accommodation, etc.
- Research and development perspectives. In addition to undisputable profit for modern medicine, elaboration of new AR solutions, apps, and devices favour healthcare software development. During the COVID-19 pandemic with such drastic measures as lockdowns, rapid digitalization, and expansion of online services, investment in this sphere has become a vital necessity for leading IT companies.
Augmented reality has become a perfect addition to conventional medicine. It has a bright future in various healthcare sectors, moreover, the necessity to develop new AR applications encourages further research in IT. Thus, AR should remain a priority of healthcare software development. Its expansion in medical institutions worldwide demands international cooperation with leading IT companies elaborating custom medical software.
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