Tag Archives: Medical

AR applications in medical training

Medical education is one of the application fields of augmented reality. As mentioned in the use-case section, the head-mounted device HoloLens released by Microsoft can be used to visualize a fully virtual body and its parts in a room for studying anatomy. But there are approaches in the scientific world in this area as well.

In 2014, a study about the skills assessment in minimal invasive surgery with AR was conducted. A system consisting of a box-trainer, a camera and surgery tools equipped with sensors was developed by the scientists. Basic skills, hand-eye coordination and bimanual operation were tested in this survey. Therefore, experienced surgeons and novices in this field were compared. Differences between the two groups regarding smoothness and economy of motion were found. The authors highlighted the potential of the technology for medical training as a conclusion. [1]

The study of Kim, Chan, & Du did not deal with the potential of AR for surgical training, but for interaction with a radar screen. Also for this study, an AR system was developed. In addition, a training textbook for the same task was written. Two different groups of undergraduates trained either with the AR system or the textbook. During a practice session, the performance of the students was measured. Significant differences were found between the two groups. Students practicing with the augmented reality application were more aware of the situation than students training with the textbook. This indicates that AR can have a positive learning effect on trainees in the medical field. [2]

The above studies suggest that the potential of augmented reality in medical training is high. In 2016, Lahanas el al. made a survey of the educational opportunities of this technology. Thus, the authors looked for relevant articles and evaluated them. Up to August 215, they found twenty-seven relevant studies. The articles could be assigned to the following categories:

  • Laparoscopic surgical training
  • Neurosurgical procedures
  • Echocardiography

Even though face- and construct-validity was proven for most training methods, none of the applications was proven to have the ability to transfer information to the user. [3]

In conclusion, there are promising possibilities of applying AR to medical training. Possible areas of application in the medical education field are minimal invasive surgery, interaction with a radar screen or anatomy. It seems like AR applications have a positive learning effect. However, there is no evidence in literature that AR systems are able to transfer information to medical personnel.


[1] Lahanas, Loukas, Smailis, & Georgiou, 2015

[2] Kim, Chan, & Du, 2015

[3] Lahanas et al., 2015

Medical Augmented Reality

Health care is one of the application areas where augmented reality can be applied by all actors of the field. AR is already widely used in training of new doctors. There are already lots of applications for medical education. Also, patients are benefiting from therapy applications, helping them to regain full functionality of their body. In the future, AR will have a more profound impact on the health care sector. Doctors will use AR to conduct surgeries more efficient and with more accuracy than today. [1]

Medical education

Learning how the human body works is difficult. Medical students not only need to know how all the parts of the body function, but where they are located. Since the human corps is a 3 dimensional object, augmented reality makes it easier to visualize it compared to a 2 dimensional screen or piece of paper.

At the Build 2016 Keynote, Microsoft demonstrated an application for its AR glasses called “HoloLens”, which is used in medical education. Students are able to see a model of the human body including the relevant parts for the course. Through gestures the model can be manipulated. For example, it is possible to zoom in/out, rotate the model or switch between the parts, which should be visible. Besides interaction, it is possible to collaborate in a group. A model can be manipulated by more than one person. This person not necessary needs to be in the same room. With the application for HoloLens, it is possible to work with people in different geographical locations. Learning the functions of the human body with a 3D model compared with studying with books saves valuable time and allows students to understand functions more efficient. [2]

Video: Microsoft HoloLens: Build 2016 Keynote. Medical education application demonstrated at 6:00 to 10:40.


Patients are an additional user group, which can benefit from AR in the health care are. For example, AR can be used in the stroke rehabilitation process. Patients need intensive treatment, usually with a therapist. To lower therapy costs, patients practice arm and hand movements with an AR application instead of with a therapist. The app cannot fully replace a therapist. Compared with virtual reality solutions, an AR system feels more natural because the patient is able to see its own body and interact more intuitively. [3]

In 2010 already, a group of researchers developed a prototype of a game for rehabilitation of the upper-limb. Objects on a table and the hand movements are recognized by a webcam. Different movements can be practiced with various objects. The equipment for the training is affordable and is not only suitable for rehabilitation in a hospital, but also for home use.

[1] http://www.healthtechevent.com/technology/augmented-reality-revolutionizing-medicine-healthcare/

[2] http://medicalaugmentedreality.com/2016/03/microsoft-hololens-build-2016-keynote-medical-demo/

[3] Mousavi, H., Khademi, M., & Dodakian, L. (2013). A Spatial Augmented Reality Rehab System for Post-Stroke Hand Rehabilitation, 279–285.