Pulse Check on Augmented Reality

By Kate
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Reality realitycheckahead

This morning Mehdi invited me to attend CB Web Le Club’s “Augmented Reality” breakfast.  I was keen to attend because as you may have smelled Europe is leading the planet in AR technology and application advancements.  If you know me well, you know that I don’t use the term “leading” lightly. 

Thanks to progress made in the hardware industry, interactive media in all its forms, including AR, but also immersive virtuality, real-time 3D, etc, is slithering into your daily life perhaps without you noticing.  And when your shiny new 3D TV is happily installed chez toi, you’ll be getting even more of it. 

In fact, just like when you’re shopping for bio products at the grocery store, soon you’ll know if the products (not necessarily in the grocery store) you buy are linked to AR applications or not.  Yes, there’s talk of an AR label for packaging.  Total Immersion presented their proposition for this label, sharp looking indeed. 

Even Banking, categorically one of the most boring industries, has jumped on the AR wagon.  This morning BNP (a major French bank) tooted its SPOT application.  With your iPhone camera and SPOT you can scan the city for the nearest BNP bank, view its open-for-business hours, etc.  We’ve seen this type of thing with Layar for real estate.  Point your iPhone to a building to see if it contains an apartment for sale, and if so, what are the architectural and financial specs? 

Why will people adopt AR?  We assume because it will make our lives more fun and augment our experiences.  But I’d like to offer up a different perspective that was briefly mentioned this morning.  We all learn differently.  Some of us learn by seeing.  Some of us learn by hearing.  Some of us learn by doing.  What Augmented Reality could offer is learning by all three ways integrated. 

Do you buy this theory?  I’d love to know your thoughts . . .



Immersive 3D Reducing Burn Victims’ Pain

By Bernie
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It’s extremely gratifying to work for a company that helps so many people do so much good. And what could be more important than relieving the pain of a child who has suffered serious burns?

The University of Washington’s Dr. Hunter Hoffman, a virtual reality researcher, and Dr. Dave Patterson, a pain and hypnosis expert, set just that challenge for themselves when they began to research how to reduce pain without drugs. They hypothesized that if patients could let their minds go somewhere else while their wounds were cleaned and dressed, the distraction would significantly reduce the pain.

They developed the first iteration of the environment they call SnowWorld, a glacial land populated by virtual snowmen, penguins and mastodons, with funding from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and the National Institutes of Health. The original SnowWorld proved traditional video game technology could help, but Drs. Hoffman and Patterson thought a more immersive experience could help more. They decided to redevelop SnowWorld as a 3D Virtual Reality (VR) environment.


For help, they turned to University of Washington colleagues Howard Rose and Ari Hollander, founders of Firsthand Technology. Firsthand is a “serious games company” focused on developing medical training applications and treatment applications for maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We rebuilt SnowWorld with 3DVIA Virtools from Dassault Systèmes to make it simpler to modify,” Hollander says. “The flexibility of 3DVIA Virtools allows SnowWorld’s creators to more easily test different experimental hypotheses and identify factors relevant to better pain control.”

The deeply immersive nature of SnowWorld built in 3DVIA Virtools improved the level of pain relief and made it easy for the University of Washington team to alter the scenario to test different hypotheses, Hoffman says.

“3DVIA Virtools is versatile enough to let us explore a variety of options without investing so much time and effort testing out an idea that we feel locked into keeping the change regardless of its usefulness,” Dr. Hoffman says. “Virtools has become an integral part of our research team’s success.”

Programming speed is another key advantage, allowing Firsthand’s clients to see their concepts evolve quickly. Realism, too, contributes to SnowWorld’s success.

“In the 3DVIA Virtools version of SnowWorld, the snowflakes are just incredible,” Dr. Hoffman says. “The magical 3D snowflakes help patients feel ‘there’ in SnowWorld, which leads to grater pain relief.”


Patients report that they perceive less pain when immersed in SnowWorld, allowing doctors to treat them with significantly lower levels of potentially addictive painkillers than previously possible. Best of all, MRI scans prove patients don’t just perceive less pain – in many cases, their brains actually experience 50 percent fewer pain messages than those same patients experience without SnowWorld.

It’s exciting to see the way doctors are using 3D immersive technologies such as 3DVIA Virtools to improve patient treatments. What other sorts of medical treatments can you imagine with the power of 3D?



Hands-On Medical VR @ swYm

By Kate
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PSS dice view

No, this is not a dice game. It’s a serious VR system for medical professionals and specialists in other areas such as Oil & Gas, and training and simulation.

Today at the swYm conference, Personal Space Technologies’ Director, drs. Arjen Brinkman, kindly coached me through my first try with Personal Space Station (PSS). Unlike the targeted end-users, I didn’t get to hold a pumping human heart in my hands, but I did get to play around with 3D clay modeling.

You can see in the below photo that Arjen even modeled my name.

PSS kate

The problem with hospital technology is that you mostly end up with compromised 3D data that loses information necessary for accurate diagnostic and treatment decisions. For example, you could have a fancy 3D MRI machine, but the display screen is 2D which squashes the 3D information. You just can’t see everything, and details matter in medicine!

Here’s a 21st Century Business video that explains and shows the technology in action. You’ll note an interview with the same Arjen who modeled my name.

YouTube Preview Image

At a time in the Life Sciences industry where we hear a lot of talk about nanoscience, etc., I’m happy to have come across a technology that’s so tangible and ready for mainstream usage. Dare I say it’s “lifelike”?

Many thanks Arjen for your initiation. I look forward to following your company and am happy to see VR working its magic in the healthcare world.



P.S. Personal Space Technologies is a Dassault Systèmes ETCC partner. That stands for Emerging Technology Channel Community.

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