Have you wondered what it feels like to grow old or how you can recover from a heart attack? Have you ever imagined following and understanding a critical surgery sitting at your couch? Did you know that you can be exposed to your phobias in a controlled environment? Have you imagined how it feels to fly over a city, stand on top of the highest peaks, explore the planet from above or even soar into space?
Yes. All this is possible with the power of Virtual Reality.
In simple words, virtual reality means ‘near-reality’.
It is the creation of an artificial environment presented to our senses in such a way that we experience it as if we were really there. To enter into virtual reality, a user can use goggles, gloves and headsets, all of which are generally used to display the virtual world while shutting out environmental distractions.
Virtual reality techniques are extensively used in gaming, military training, entertainment, education, research and learning. But healthcare is one industry in particular that stands to really benefit from the utilization of VR technology. In healthcare, traditional devices and therapies are being replaced by newer technologies and VR enabled healthcare solutions.
Impact of virtual reality in the near term
Virtual reality is a fantastic innovation which demonstrates what cutting-edge technology is capable of today. The global market for VR in healthcare is projected to reach US$3.8 billion by 2020.
Healthcare is one of the biggest users of virtual reality for areas like:
1. Surgery simulation
2. Phobia treatment
3. Robotic surgery
4. Skills training
Virtual reality can elevate the teaching and learning experience in medicine to a whole new level. The traditional way to learn surgery is by practising on cadavers or by training under an experienced surgeon. Today, only a few students can peek over a surgeon’s shoulders during an operation and it is challenging for the students to learn the intricacies involved.
With a virtual reality camera, surgeons can stream operations globally and allow medical students to use new techniques to literally “see through” the human body.
So how will virtual reality revolutionize healthcare?
Here are a few examples of how VR is revolutionizing the way healthcare operates
1. Mental illness, anxiety and other stress-related problems can be addressed by providing patients with an immersive experience that is relaxing
2. When combined with telerobotic technology, VR techniques are already being used to allow surgeons to perform operations in new ways.
3. VR technology can be used as a tool to help doctors or surgeons perform medical procedures.
4. It can also be used to make remote conferencing more realistic and satisfactory for participants.
5. VR technology helps patients in pain management by distracting patients from the discomfort.
6. Telemedicine makes it possible for experts to see patients anywhere, regardless of geography.
7. Virtual treatments often eliminate the use of drugs and complex invasive surgical procedures for treatment, thus saving cost and time.
Why designers should let go of the screen
As the industry is racing to update itself with top-notch user experiences for medical interfaces, new themes of UX trends have emerged that are shaping the future of the healthcare industry. Designing for a spherical world with the user at the centre is different from designing for a flat surface and hence it should find a new paradigm.
1. Hyper-immersive design: Virtual reality is immersive, the design should support and enhance the user’s sense of presence in the virtual environment.
Example: ImmersiveTouch simulators immerse surgeons in a digitally replicated operating environment
2. 2D to 3D: Designers have to think of the spatial layout and how the design will fit the experience.
Example: AppliedVR has designed a novel application for the 3D environment and transformed the patient experience
3. Design for the motion: Movement is one of the most important things to consider when designing for VR. Designers should give full control to users when it comes to moving around, otherwise, they will suffer from motion sickness.
Example: Firsthand technology has developed games like Snow World where patients are drawn in, throwing their own snowballs as they fly through the gently falling snow.
4. Personalization over standardization: Designers should recognize their user’s behaviour and offer a curated and personalized experience based on their user preferences.
Example: Virtually Better has developed a personalized new app for children with sleepless problems
5. Don’t overload information: Keep the amount of information and objects on screen low, much lower than in standard screen design. A world experienced in virtual reality does not have to be complex to be convincing. Even the simplest space is capable of evoking emotions and making a strong impact on users.
Example Fulldive has developed an app which is one of the easiest ways for users to experience VR with minimal information on the screen.
The road ahead
The way we experience the world is changing and will continue to change drastically. Virtual reality is here to stay and it will be invading your living room or office much sooner than you think. Hope you enjoyed reading this.
This blog was originally published on NetBramha Studios