Virtual Reality in Medical EducationNews summary about where VR in medical education is now and where it's headed.
Use of virtual reality in medical education is already happening, but at a pretty low level. Hardware, cost, and content availability for VR are not yet sufficient for widespread adoption. The hardware generations in virtual reality devices are highly compressed. Every 2.5 years, resolution, memory, and speed of the device double, while cost and weight are cut by half. This type of generational speed of development is the norm for any sort of exponential technology that involves a computing component.
Resolution, comfort, and cost are the areas driving the adoption threshold, while content - both programmatic and visual - impact when VR is going to be a viable replacement for some types of medical education.
The goal is a standalone wearable device that is comfortable, lightweight, with photorealistic graphics, and that has a small (and hopefully stylish) form.
We are two generations away from first adoption - that's just five years in product generations. Three product generations from now are likely to see resolutions 8x better than current technology, gigabyte memories, hours of battery life, and weights a tenth of what they are now. That is in the 4 to 8 year horizon.
Articles and research papers talking about small studies abound, like this one:
The Future: Can Virtual Reality Bridge the Medical Education Gap?
We've been hearing this for the better part of a decade - that virtual reality is a big part of the future of medical (and other) education. Immersive simulations offer much better retention than classroom lectures and reading, and the future is right around the corner. We have articles and books from the early 2000's touting the imminent disruption of education with virtual and augmented reality.
What is different this time is much of the path to broad adoption is in place.
VR has been used extensively on small scale projects. There are grant-based and university funded efforts to deploy it in anatomical training, history and patient interaction simulation, surgical simulation, and small courses built around medical procedures. Outside of education, several commercial firms are producing VR and AR products for surgical aids and procedure-specific training or familiarization.
The challenge for medical education is going to be content development. High resolution 3D video, animation, and 3D images are not cheap to make. Much of the content most useful for VR in medical education is going to be case-based branching simulation, increasing the size of the required content base.
The Obstacles VR Will Overcome To Go Mainstream For Business Users
We are going to have capable hardware for virtual reality well before the end of the decade. Comprehensive content, such as photorealistic anatomical or procedural training may take a while to catch up, but each year will see expansion and improvement of medical education content.
For companies like Challenger, and anyone in medical education, there's now a time horizon for VR disruption of education, and it is looking like the latter half of the decade.
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