VR is Radically Transforming Surgery

A successful demo launch by developer Room One proves VR will be integral in the future of medicine.

Last week at Ericsson’s Innovation Day in Aachen, Germany, Room One launched a groundbreaking combination of VR and technology previously shown at Mobile World Congress to live-stream a surgery worldwide.

The 5G robotic arm and glove combination that first made waves in February 2017 was used in an examination of a virtual kidney, with video and audio from the procedure streamed in realtime to participants wearing VR headsets. Participants also wore haptic feedback pads that provided them with the simulation of tactile feedback that a surgeon performing the procedure would receive in the glove.

The technology means surgery students and doctors can watch and learn from operations, even if they are on the other side of the world.

VR enthusiasts and experts have long touted the immense potential for VR in education, particularly in the medical sector. Room One is working to convert that potential into a daily reality.

“The connectivity revolution is bigger than the industrial revolution,” said Room One President Mahdi Yahya in a statement. “We are only at the start of what is possible. Remote surgery over the Internet; the creation of fully immersive virtual worlds; homes, cars, and phones that speak to each other instantly over the network. As creatives, designers and technologists, it is our duty to realise [sic] this future.”

Room One produced the demo in collaboration with Ericsson, BT, King’s College London (KCL), Ericsson, and OPTO. The 5G technology used to connect the robotic arm with the glove was developed by Ericsson, BT, and KCL. OPTO developed the headsets used by participants, while Room One designed the haptic feedback pads, programmed the digital kidney, and provided the live-stream technology used in the demonstration.

Room One hopes to recreate this success in more ambitious immersive projects.

“We were delighted to work with Ericsson, BT, KCL, and OPTO intimately on this project, said Room One COO Melissa Doré in a statement. “We have a number of additional exciting virtual reality projects in the pipeline, and hope to continue to work with technical and creative partners from a range of backgrounds to find innovative solutions to existing problems.” 

To that end, Room One is currently working to develop a CGI version of the surgery to give medical students an opportunity to practice the procedure in a completely immersive environment. 

About the Scout

Presley West

Emory University student, VRScout Writer, Storyteller, and Amateur Dog Walker.

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