(3 Oct 2015) LEAD IN:
High-tech developers in Canada are creating interactive virtual spaces that are helping surgeons train.
The technology allows people to move around and see their own bodies in a virtual reality.
At a high-tech studio in Surrey, British Columbia, Dr. Keerit Tauh is brushing up on his surgical skills.
He’s testing an application that could soon be used to prepare teams at his hospital to conduct complicated operations.
Tauh holds a PlayStation move controller that connects his real hands to a virtual reality version of his hands in an operating theatre.
The technology does this by tracking his hands as they move.
It uses low latency – the amount of time delay between what he does with the controller and what he sees through the headset.
This means his hands in real life match the hands’ position and speed in the virtual space.
“It was very very realistic,” says Dr. Tauh, who is a resident at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
“The depth with your hands and the instrumentation with your hands actually felt quite natural. The distance when I moved my hand felt like when I move my hand in real life, which was really neat and intriguing. You did get a fairly realistic idea in terms of your depth perception as well in terms of where to place instruments, what kind of depth the patient is away from you. It’s very cool.”
Conquer Mobile began designing the technology in 2013. It’s known as PeriopSim VR.
Conquer Mobile collaborated with researchers and technicians at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a host of local tech companies including Wavesine and the Sawmill to come up with the innovation.
Called ‘Vroaming’, it allows people to move through physical spaces while being immersed in virtual spaces.
The developers say that full body motion capturing allows people using the technology to see their own bodies in the virtual spaces.
They say the fact that the technology is wireless and lighter and faster than other virtual reality technology, gives users an increasingly detailed experience, which comes close to recreating reality.
Technological advances now allow people to use virtual reality by moving around freely and interacting without being connected to any devices by cables.
Up until now, cables were needed to make virtual reality headsets fast enough so users wouldn’t experience motion sickness.
VRCade has built a comparable un-tethered experiencee for virtual reality gaming.
Currently the non-cabled VR headset available to consumers today is known as GearVR.
For the time being, it doesn’t have a built-in position tracking system. Gear VR’s 3D chip isn’t powerful enough to operate PeriopSim.
In order to experience virtual reality, Tauh wears a wireless Nomad headset designed by David Clement, CEO of tech company, Wavesine. He created 25 versions of the headset before developing the current version, according to Conquer Mobile.
Vroaming for surgeons allows doctors to experience what it is like to perform surgery in an operating room while standing in an empty meeting room.
Conquer Mobile hopes to bring PeriopSim VR to medical schools, simulation centres and hospitals. The technology is currently used at several facilities.
Conquer Mobile’s executive chairman Aaron Hilton is using an iPad to create a 3D model of Tauh’s head. The company calls it a selfie scan and it allows the team to bring images it captures into a virtual setting.
“I wanted to set out to save a person’s life through technological innovation and really uplift the human spirit,” explains Hilton. “I had these high ideals, and now to see it actually coming to life, and having real surgeons come in and try it out and go, ‘I get this. This is really useful.’ It’s fantastic.”
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