The healthcare industry is at a watershed moment for extended reality (XR). Just as cell phones evolved from 2.5-pound behemoths to ubiquitous pocket-size devices, we see XR as moving from an experimental novelty to a cutting-edge tool to an everyday necessity for clinical practice.
This shift is already being driven in large part by advances in wearables, according to Garry Putland, vice president of sales, GIGXR. Speaking at Microsoft’s 24H Virtual Conference, Putland pointed out that over the next 5-10 years, the headsets that make XR possible will continue to become more user friendly.
“Headsets will get lighter,” he said, adding that as costs continue to come down, adoption will quickly become widespread. The Microsoft Hololens 2 already represents a noticeable increase in functionality and a US $1500 price drop from the first generation of the device.
These devices are driven by the content that run on them. GIGXR’s HoloPatient was, in fact, created in partnership with Microsoft as one of their first mixed reality partners and continues to lead innovation in tech alongside a dynamic network of forward thinking creators in the field to this day. As the programming available for XR hardware becomes ever more realistic, interactive and varied, the hardware provides a foundation for those advancements. For example, in healthcare training applications such as GIGXR’s HoloPatient, the ability to raise the visor of the headset and interact in person with other students provides an important way to “pause and reflect” on the content being shared.
For students in fields such as healthcare, and even architecture and engineering,which require continuing education hours to maintain licensure, programs that adopt new technology promptly are giving graduates a key advantage in their working lives.
“Learning how to learn” via XR-assisted training methods will become as important as computer literacy is today. XR’s utility as an assistive training method—it does not need to replace any tool in the current toolkit for educators but does supplement book- and video-based training—means that the future for this technology will continue to be driven forward by educators and students looking to raise the bar.
XR will also likely become more interactive and include haptics as time goes on, making the user experience even closer to in-person training.