Is The Oculus Quest Powerful Enough to Deliver Portable Surgical Simulations?
Untethered VR Surgical Solutions Turns VR From a Training Tool into a Marketing Tool
Medical animation and surgical simulation developer, Ghost Productions, Inc. has completed feasibility testing on the Oculus Quest cordless virtual reality headset and the results are promising. Their tests challenged the medical rendering capabilities of the wireless VR headset and while it was not capable of delivering photo-realistic imagery it could interact with surgical anatomy in real time. These findings allow for a profound shift in VR’s adoption within the medical industry that has been slow to take advantage of the many benefits VR’s simulation-based training can provide.
“The ability to deliver highly functional surgical training simulations in VR without needing a cord attached to a powerful gaming PC or a laptop eliminates the largest blocker we face when it comes to getting our clients to sign on to develop VR content,” said Leo Hennen, head of sales at Ghost Productions. Leo added, “The VR surgical programs we’ve produced were intended for use primarily at tradeshows or permanent installations at medical training centers. Now that portability is possible, medical sales reps can bring them anywhere and within two minutes of setup, allow doctors a hands-on experience with their surgical devices and implants on a virtual patient.” Making VR a tool that surgical device sales reps can easily utilize in their demonstration arsenal enables a profound shift in medical VR, from turning it from a training tool into a marketing tool, and with it, an exponential increase in the available budget medical companies are willing to spend on a rollout.
Limitations of a Portable VR Platform
While the VR development team at Ghost Productions encountered some specific hardware limitations that were not an issue with PC based VR simulations, they believe they will be able to develop functional workarounds for the majority of their client’s surgical procedures. Soft-tissue manipulation, like cutting skin, tendons, and muscle tissue with a scalpel requires computational gymnastics that overwhelm the Quest’s tiny Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. Though these limitations create challenges for simulating surgical procedures for medical specialties like urology and cardiology, other areas of medicine like orthopedics, dental, and neurology will remain largely unaffected. In time, it is likely that increases in microprocessor rendering capability will increase to the point where even these challenges are a thing of the past.
Ghost Productions isn’t waiting around for hardware developers and have launched their first VR surgical project designed specificallyfor portable VR hardware like the Oculus Quest. Their client, a spinal implant developer in St. Paul, MN, Spineology, has hired Ghost Productions to make a simulation that allows surgeons, nurses, and assistants to experience their innovative devices, tools, and surgical procedures virtually and even connect with their sales reps remotely using virtual telepresence. “We’re committed to offer the surgeons that use our products the finest training possible and the portability of the Oculus Quest makes it possible to use it everywhere, whether that be in clinics, conferences, or shipped over-night to just about anywhere in the world” stated Spineology’s CEO, John Booth.
Founded in 1994, Ghost Productions, Inc. is a pioneering leader in 3D medical animation and visualization. Ghost Productions has produced projects for the largest medical device and pharmaceutical companies in the world including, Abbott Laboratories, Cardinal Health, Bausch & Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, and Stryker.
Ghost Productions – Leo Hennen – Head of Sales
Spineology – Garrett Ganske – Director of Marketing
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. Images provided for reproduction courtesy of Ghost Productions, Inc.