Augmented reality (AR) is being used to pioneer new ways to teach students dentistry and is changing the way dentists interact with their patient’s teeth. ABC News reports that the University of Western Australia is testing how AR glasses could allow dentists to speed up procedures. The news site explains that the technology works by superimposing computer-generated imagery onto the real world when viewed through special AR glasses. This will potentially allow dentists to bring up information without having to move from treating the patient. Students can also use this technology to practice manual skills such as crowns and fillings without supervision.
Saving Time with Augmented Reality
It is believed that the time saved using AR technology would allow dentists to see an extra patient a day. UWA student and researcher Marcus Pham told the Dental Tribune “a big problem at the moment is the amount of interruptions dentists face when performing procedures, with an estimated 20 per cent of their day spent carrying out non-clinical tasks and a significant amount of time spent away from patients during a procedure review critical information.” The Tribune informed that the trials would begin in January 2017.
A Brief History of Augmented Reality
AR has exploded into the public conscious in the past year with the release of Pokémon Go. The popular game uses AR to allow users to catch the creatures in real time in actual places. The game was hugely successful and shows how traditional entertainment platforms are being replaced by companies looking for new ways to reach wider audiences. Previously gaming companies would look to partner with popular film franchises, as demonstrated by the many examples seen on Slingo, to attract a wider player base, but now the studios are looking to create new interactive experiences on smartphones for their products using AR and VR.
Medical Futurist states that the success of Pokémon Go is significant because the AR technology used in the game could have a huge effect on the future of healthcare. The site believes that AR and VR will be commonplace in healthcare within 3-5 years. Using AR to save lives would not only be available to doctors as the public could use their smartphones to find the nearest defibrillator or be able to use a medical app to describe their symptoms more accurately. The most important development will be combining AR with surgery in the same way that is being tested by the dentistry industry in Australia. Already developments and tests are being done that will revolutionize how surgery is performed which in turn will save more lives.
Augmented Reality – a Technical Revolution in Healthcare
The benefits of AR are huge and healthcare is about to enter a technical revolution. Companies are already helping dentists use AR to create digital models of a patient’s mouth and examine them without leaving the patient. In the next few years watching your dentist wave his hands around while operating could be commonplace.
About the Author
James Morris is a writer specializing in healthcare and technology. His interest lies in discussing how humanity will be shaped by advancements in technology and, unlike many, he sees technical advancements as a positive step for our future.