Is Augmented Reality The Future – Within the next decade, handheld cell phones will be replaced by augmented reality glasses that you will wear most of your waking hours.
The first wave of immersive glass products will hit the consumer market in the next few years The world’s biggest companies will introduce the technology – companies from Apple, Google and Meta to Microsoft, Samsung, LG and Snap. And while many consumers, myself included, are skeptical that we’d want to wear digital hardware for hours on end every day, we will.
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We cannot afford to ignore the impact of this technology on our lives in the near future One need only consider the billions spent on the so-called metaverse However, I have been involved in this field since its inception, and I appreciate the skepticism surrounding virtual and augmented reality. We lived through a false start in the 1990s and another in the mid-2010s
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VR and AR technologies are finally able to deliver real world value Although I could point to many examples, no field of endeavor illustrates the case more clearly than medicine. Last week I participated as a panelist at the Digital Orthopedics Conference in San Francisco, where one big thing was envisioning the medical field in the 2030s. As part of this effort, a small group of us carefully reviewed the latest research and assessed the potential impact of immersive technology.
I have to admit, I have been deeply impressed by how much augmented reality has progressed in the last 18 months for use in medicine. I expect that by 2030 augmented reality headsets will be a common tool for surgeons, radiologists and other medical professionals.
This early adoption of augmented reality will make doctors the first humans with superpowers I’m talking about the superhuman ability to visualize medical images, patient data, and other important clinical content. The costs associated with these new capabilities are already very reasonable, and they will decrease rapidly in the coming years as AR hardware is mass-produced.
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The first superpower is X-ray vision – the ability to look at a patient and see evidence of injury or disease wherever he or she resides. However, doctors can see under the skin with tools like computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. But these images are displayed on flat screens, leaving medical professionals to imagine what the images are with the patient on the table. This type of extrapolation is an effective skill, but it requires time and mental effort, making many doctors wish they could just look at the human body.
With AR headsets and new medical imaging techniques, the superpower of x-ray vision is now a reality. An intriguing study by TICO University School of Medicine tested an experimental emergency room with its ability to capture full-body CT scans of trauma patients. The medical team wore AR headsets, which allowed staff to look at the patient on the operating table and see the injuries. This allowed the team to discuss injuries and plan treatment without having to turn to a flat screen This saves time, reduces distractions and reduces the need to extrapolate from limited information
Augmented reality provides doctors with visible assistive content on the patient’s body and where information is needed For example, surgeons performing a delicate procedure see navigation cues projected onto the patient in real time. This guidance helps them to intervene with extra precision The aim is to increase accuracy, reduce mental effort and speed up the process The potential costs for surgery are enormous, from minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopy and endoscopy to freehand surgical efforts such as orthopedic implants.
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In fact, I predict that augmented reality will become an essential tool for many surgical procedures within the next ten years. I say this because the idea has been associated with the concept of augmented surgery for decades since the first AR system – the Virtual Fixtures platform – was developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory in the early 1990s. The goal of those early efforts was to show that AR could augment humanity in precision operations such as surgery
The project was a success But to appreciate the remarkable progress the field has made over the decades, consider this: When testing whether virtual overlays could improve manual accuracy, early systems required users to insert metal pins into holes that were 2 feet apart. Thirty years later, surgeons at Johns Hopkins, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and the University of Washington performed a delicate spinal procedure on 28 patients. They used augmented reality to insert metal screws to an accuracy of less than 2 mm. As revealed in a recent study, the system registered the correct patient with such accuracy that surgeons scored 98% on standard performance metrics.
Looking ahead, we can expect this reality to impact all aspects of medicine This is because its accuracy has reached a clinically viable level In addition, major breakthroughs are in the works that will make it faster and easier to use augmented reality in medical settings. As described above, one of the biggest challenges for any precision AR application is accurately aligning the virtual content with the real patient (a process called registration). In medical terms, this means attaching physical markers to the patient, which takes time and effort In a study from Imperial College London and the University of Pisa, researchers tested a marker-less system for surgeons that uses cameras and artificial intelligence. To properly align virtual content Their method was faster and cheaper, but not as accurate It’s still early days – in the coming years this technology will enable AR-assisted surgery without the need for expensive markers.
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Camera-based registration techniques will soon move from highly controlled environments like the operating room to augmented reality and bring it to a wider range of medical applications. I predict that by 2030, general practitioners will routinely see patients with AR headsets, and that brings me to another medical superpower – the ability to see time. Doctors use the AR headset to capture specially registered images of their patients, and they will preview images that are perfectly aligned with the patient’s body. For example, a doctor can quickly assess the healing progress of a skin wound by examining the patient through AR glasses and scrolling back to compare how the current wound looked at the previous visit.
Researchers have made impressive progress on the medical use of virtual and augmented reality, with significant implications for medical education and medical practice. “The beneficial role of AR and VR in the advancement of the healthcare workforce cannot be understated,” said Stefano Bini from the UCSF Department of Orthopedic Surgery.
I agree with Benny and go further I believe that augmented reality will affect all aspects of society in the 2030s After all, X-ray vision, navigation cues, dexterity support, and the ability to see time are useful for everything from construction and auto repair to engineering, manufacturing, and agriculture. But the biggest impact will be on mainstream consumers, who have extra superpowers for everyday use.
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One such super power is omniscience With AR Glass, you can look at almost everything around you, think through thoughts, and instantly see informative content about the object or the activity of your attention. A quick nod of the head to make sure you see it, and the information disappears It feels like a real super power
Augmented reality will also give you supernatural memories It will be impossible to forget someone’s name because it will appear the moment you see them, along with the names of their spouses and children. The last time you met and what you discussed will also be remembered All this information is delivered seamlessly
Augmented reality will integrate with smart homes, allowing users to see a light switch across the room and make a quick Harry Potter-like gesture to turn it off. It feels like a real magic power, and it will extend far beyond light to all electronic devices We learn to control all aspects of our augmented world with gaze and gestures And when it comes to music, the glasses will allow you to do more than just listen – it’ll have the ability to change the appearance of your surroundings in sync with the music, making you feel like you’re suddenly inside yourself. Actually shipped Time music video while you’re on the road
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This brings me back to my thesis: within the next ten years, augmented reality will replace mobile phones as our primary interface to digital content. Early adopters will be attracted to new, magical abilities Anyone else, including superstitious people, would quickly find themselves in trouble without superstition, x-ray vision, supernatural memory, and dozens of other abilities.
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