A University of Alabama at Birmingham surgical team has performed one of the first surgeries using a virtual augmented reality technology from VIPAAR in conjunction with Google Glass, a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. The combination of the two technologies could be an important step toward the development of useful, practical telemedicine.
VIPAAR, which stands for Virtual Interactive Presence in Augmented Reality, is commercializing a UAB-developed technology that provides real-time, two-way, interactive video conferencing.
UAB orthopedic surgeon Brent Ponce, M.D., performed a shoulder replacement surgery Sept. 12 at UAB Highlands Hospital in Birmingham. Watching and interacting with Ponce via the VIPAAR technology was Phani Dantuluri, M.D., from his office in Atlanta.
Ponce wore Google Glass during the operation. The built-in camera transmitted the image of the surgical field to Dantuluri. The VIPAAR technology allowed Dantuluri to see exactly what Ponce saw in the operating room and introduce his hands or instruments into the virtual surgical field. At the same time, Ponce saw Dantuluri’s hands and instruments in his heads-up display, along with his own field of view, as a merged-reality environment.
“It’s not unlike the line marking a first down that a television broadcast adds to the screen while televising a football game,” said Ponce. “You see the line, although it’s not really on the field. Using VIPAAR, a remote surgeon is able to put his or her hands into the surgical field and provide collaboration and assistance.”
The two surgeons were able to discuss the case in a truly interactive fashion since Dantuluri could watch Ponce perform the surgery and simultaneously introduce his hands or instruments into Ponce’s view as if they were standing next to each other during the case.
“It’s real-time, real-life, right there, as opposed to a Skype or video conference call, which allows for dialogue back and forth but is not really interactive,” said Ponce.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc