Holograms May Reduce the Need for Cadavers in Med School

September 22, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Photo credit: Microsoft HoloLens/Youtube

Future doctors could learn with augmented-reality holograms, helping them examine vital organs and body parts without breaking skin.

HoloLens, a new virtual reality technology developed by Microsoft, will allow doctors and medical students to explore the inner human body in a thorough and hyperrealistic way. Microsoft has partnered up with Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in hopes of revolutionizing education for future healthcare leaders.

In Microsoft’s new video about HoloLens’ medical applications, CWRU’s President Barbara Snyder explains, “We’ve been teaching human anatomy the same way for a hundred years. Students get a cadaver, then they look at medical illustrations, and it’s completely two-dimensional — and the human body isn’t.”

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HoloLens enables users to select any part of the human body, from vital organs to specific bones. Then they’re able to move it around and make the body part translucent, gaining bearings on the minor details that would be less accessible from a 2D image. Students can even work on virtual patients, which could reduce the need for cadavers.

Mark Griswold, a professor of radiology at CWRU, thinks the HoloLens could improve student’s confidence in learning anatomy. “Any time you change the way that you see things, it changes the way that you understand them. As soon as you can change somebody’s understanding, then they can change the way they see the world,” he said. He envisions future classrooms where students huddle around with their HoloLens headsets, physically interacting with different body parts and organs to build a better understanding of human anatomy.

In addition to transforming the medical field, students have worked with HoloLens to build molecular structures or develop gaming applications. Microsoft also teamed up with NASA to provide hyperrealistic virtual learning methods for astronauts, better preparing them for the trials of space.

HoloLens is a cutting edge technology that could have huge implications in the fields of science, medicine, and engineering. The immersive technology aims to change the way humans experience content and information, creating a new level of confidence in what we know and how we’ll use that knowledge.


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