Augmented reality set for ‘accelerated growth’ in medicine
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Competition: Charities challenged to take advantage of AR & VR technologies

Augmented reality set for ‘accelerated growth’ in medicine

ABI Research has predicted that the medical augmented reality (AR) will hit an inflection point between 2018 and 2019.

The research firm forecasts that the market will then experience a substantial period of growth due to a growing number of use cases for the technology in telemedicine and surgery, which includes remote surgery viewings and enhancement of the operating room experience.

These are the findings from the ABI Research’s AR in Telemedicine, Training and First Responder Medical Applications report, announced earlier this week.

Related: Scalpel, clamp, VR headset: A surgeon’s quest to fix healthcare

Moving augmented reality from trial to deployment

According to Michael Inouye, principal analyst at ABI Research, a number of milestones must be met before the medical AR market can see ‘accelerated growth’. For example, the report found that most medical AR activity is largely focused on trials of training and education applications. For Inouye, these early trials must move forward to become proper deployments.

“Expansion into more medical education applications will be critical, because they will ensure that AR becomes a tool that future professionals learn and can use after graduation, in the medical field and beyond,” he said. “Interest for AR in surgery shows great promise but will require significant investment as well as safety trials.  We expect to see this all start to take shape as early as 2017.”

ABI expects companies like Pristine, Ubimax and Vuzix – AR application, software and hardware experts respectively – to lead this AR push. It claims these companies are laying the foundation for a possible increase in the use of medical AR. It also suggests that while telemedicine already uses teleconferencing to provide remote connections between medical professionals and their patients, in the near future, it could accelerate the uptake of medical AR, particularly if smart glasses use cases expand.

“Medicine, like any industry, will leverage new technologies to improve efficiencies and performance; and the move from a per-service structure for reimbursements to performance or quality of care will encourage this outreach for new technology,” concludes Inouye. “While the uptake of augmented reality might lag behind other industries, in part due to an often more rigorous vetting process, growth is certainly coming.”

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