VRFocus has long reported on the benefits of using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in the healthcare sector. From helping patients deal with mental illness, or recover from surgery, to teaching students about procedures, there’s almost unlimited applications to be had. The latest comes from General Electric (GE), with a team using Microsoft HoloLens to help train ultrasound sonologist students.
The project came about due to the lack of trained ultrasound sonologists in developing countries, meaning that mistakes are made and the wrong organ is scanned leading to patients having to return for further scans.
So GE Global Research has utilised the interactive capabilities of Microsoft HoloLens and created a programme to allow the headset to work in conjunction with a scanner. When a student wears the headset they’ll be able to see via a dummy where the organs are located and what they look like. These details are shown as the student moves the sonogram wand over the body, with the app teaching directions to specific organs and how to properly complete a full scan.
“We position virtual organs in the field of view of the operator, overlaid on top of the mannequin,” said Ratnadeep Paul, lead engineer for augmented and virtual reality at GE Global Research, in a GE Reports blog post. “This allows the technician to position the probe on top of the correct organ. The placement of the virtual organs will be done by live tracking of the patient’s body and using our own proprietary artificial intelligence algorithms.”
Still in the development phase, the team eventually plan to send ultrasound machines and AR headsets to hospitals, medical and nursing schools, in both developing and developed countries. “We are currently testing out the feasibility of integrating AR, AI and probe tracking in a single unified system and understanding how or if it can improve the efficiency of the ultrasound technician (especially for less skilled technicians) and reduce the errors in ultrasound imaging,” adds Paul.
Paul also mentions that GE Global Research is looking into teaching how to spot problems in pregnancy ultrasounds, creating an AR app for technicians to train on pregnant dummies. As medical advancements in VR and AR continue, VRFocus will keep you updated.