The Golden Era Of Augmented Reality In Healthcare

Augmented reality (AR) is a highly improved version of the real physical world that is achieved through the usage of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. One of augmented reality's key goals, amidst the expansion of data collecting and analysis, is to highlight specific elements of the physical world and increase understanding of such features and derive smart and accessible insight that can be applied to real-world applications. The growing craze around AR has found its applications in the healthcare sector thus, the market for AR is expected to swell rapidly in near future.

The change in perception via AR

Augmented Reality is a different concept from its near relative Virtual Reality (VR). In Virtual Reality, the surrounding environment is digitally created thus, it detaches the users from reality. While in Augmented Reality, the physical world is modified to create an interacting environment for the user. AR has two unique advantages over VR, first-users do not lose their connection with the real world, and second-it puts the information of the surrounding environment into eyesight as fast as possible. AR can extensively change the way medical students are taught, AR can modify the perception of understanding the physiology of the human body thus, there has been a lot of buzz around the incorporation of AR in healthcare sectors.

Innovative applications of AR

  • Ophthalmology and AR

With growing age, the eyesight loses its power to focus on different distant as well as near placed objects. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the loss of central vision, but the peripheral vision remains unaffected. AMD is very common, and it is a leading cause of vision loss in individuals in their 50s or older. Oculenz, developed by Ocutrx, utilizes AR technology for pixel mapping around the blind spot. Oculenz is an innovative device that helps in creating the central image by moving it onto the adjacent healthy retina. This projection of the image onto the adjacent retina is done in 4 steps-marking scotoma region, pixel mapping, eye tracking, and formation of the image on the healthy retina. Thus, with this AR technology, patients can live an effective and productive life.

  • AR and injectables

Injecting drugs in infants and in people having large deposition of fat in subcutaneous tissue, is a difficult task to carry out. To resolve this problem MedTech startup AccuVein developed an innovative application to help nurses to locate the blood vessels. According to AccuVein's marketing specialist, Vinny Luciano, 40% of IVs (intravenous injections) miss the vein on the first stick, with the numbers increasing for children and the elderly. With AccuVein's handheld scanner that projects over the skin, and shows medical professionals the location of veins, doctors and nurses can get better at drawing blood as well can efficiently administer drugs through IVs. This new AR technology has been utilized on more than 10 million patients, assisting in finding the vein on the first stick 3.5X more likely thus, helping healthcare professionals to extend their skills.

  • Search for defibrillators made comfortable

What will you do when a person standing right next to you collapses? You will call for an ambulance, but the medical aid will take time to reach the situation, what will you do now? To solve this problem, Lucien Engelen from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre has created a mobile application, AED4EU. This application allows its users to add the locations where automated external defibrillators or AEDs are located thus, creating a database that can be accessed by other users. Moreover, the Layar browser can guide the user to the exact location of the nearest AED through the phone screen. This innovative application integrates the real world and the database to provide information to those in need.

  • HoloLens 2 by Microsoft

This is one of the most advanced devices developed by Microsoft and is capable of boosting an organization's productivity in several industries. The first version of HoloLens was released back in 2015. This ergonomic and precise holographic device has been utilized by several healthcare practitioners and educational institutes. With this headset, medical students can dive deep into the biological anatomy of the human body. HoloLens can also be utilized by surgeons to visualize the surgical scenario during pre-operative sessions thus, mitigating any unwanted outcome during surgery. HoloLens enables a realistic interaction between the healthcare provider and patient. With the growing usage of telemedicine, this device is expected to gain tremendous popularity in the coming future.

Similar many applications are expected to come into the market in near future thus, strengthening the AR market in the healthcare sector. Though AR has various benefits, it comes with some cons which need to be tackled way before this technology becomes full-fledged in healthcare as well as in other industrial verticals.

  • Drug information via AR

Many questions buzz around when it comes to understanding the working nature of medicines. Reading descriptions is a boring job as it mentions a lot of biological terms which are hard to comprehend for the general population. Amplified Robot, a digital media technology company based in London underlined the root cause and has created a digital platform that incorporates AR to show the working of drugs. This application helps patients to see the functioning of the drug in 3D instead of reading the long descriptions.

Furthermore, similar applications can be developed for workers in the lab to monitor the ongoing experiments. Workers in pharmaceutical industries might begin working without any hands-on training because the device would instruct them on what to do and how to execute it. Thus, there are many applications of AR in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Google Glass and breastfeeding

This is one of the failed experiments conducted by Google but, history has shown that no new technology has been an example where the first version out of the gate is the right one. Smart World conducted the Google Glass trial in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. The trials were conducted for eight weeks before its launch in the market. Google glass allowed healthcare providers to see through the eyes of the mother while breastfeeding at home. This allowed struggling mothers to seek expert help at any time of the day without keeping the baby aside from their arms. From the patient's perspective, consultations become easier and have reached a new level. Today there is no such product in the market but, its future rise cannot be denied.


  • Lack of skilled individuals

AR is a recent technology and is undergoing continuous development. Due to continuous R&D, there are several new functions added to the AR software. It becomes difficult for healthcare users to accommodate these new technical modifications quickly. As the majority of the companies developing AR technologies for the healthcare sector are in their developing stage, it becomes difficult for them to reach out to every end-user. Moreover, the healthcare sector lacks technical staff in their emergency rooms thus in emergencies AR technology can't be utilized.

  • High cost of devices

Whenever a new technology enters the market, it comes with a hefty price tag. As innovative products are the first of their kind in the market, most people don't know the exact price range. AR is a hot topic among millennials, and it is one of the most debated as well. Though many industry verticals are ready to adopt this innovative tech, the high cost of these devices is restricting mid and small-sized enterprises to adopt this state-of-the-art technology. Thus, manufacturers should try to minimize the cost of products, in order to make them available to a wide range of end-users.


The utilization of AR technology in the healthcare sector will change the traditional standards of surgical procedure as well diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases. AR is an emerging technology in healthcare though it has been in usage in other industries. With the growing adoption, continuous R&D, and large-scale studies, this technology is all set to revolutionize the healthcare sector and strengthen its position in the overall market.

Posted by  Abhijeet Kale
Retina Graphics

Abhijeet Kale is a graduate in Biotechnology with good knowledge of emerging technologies in the healthcare sector. He likes to read here and there about the innovations in biotechnology, healthcare devices, and other technologies revolutionizing the medical sector. Not a popular writer so do search him on Introspective Market Research to read some of the informative stuff written by him. Even though his main interest lies in the healthcare sector, he has a fascination with nature, the flora and fauna, and loathes people who pollute the environment including himself. Regarding his profession, he is a dependable market researcher who is good at time management and always eager to learn new skills.