Mixed-Reality Technology offers medical students a way to gain experience by working on Holographs


Cambridge University plans to begin using holographic patient in medical training for its students by 2023, in what it claims is a world-first. 

“What simulation allows us to do is to have our students fail in a safe environment and to feel safe to fail. Of course, that’s not something we want to do with real patients,” Jonathan Martin, co-lead for Simulation at Cambridge University Hospitals, told APTN. 

Medical staff and students wearing holographic headsets are all able to see the same environment, and the patient on the bed isn’t real.

It’s not quite virtual reality, which totally replaces the user’s surroundings with virtual elements. Instead, the device medical students will use adds virtual elements to a real environment, creating what’s called a mixed reality. 

Other students would also be able to join through an app on their phones.

“The simulation environment allows the students to take those next steps in their learning, where they have an increasingly real environment around them to practice the skills and techniques that they’ll need when they come to meet real patients,” Martin said. 

The device is being created by GIGXR, a tech company based in Los Angeles, and Cambridge University Hospitals.

This technology will become more affordable for universities and hospitals who cannot afford physical simulators with high-fidelity. These simulators look similar to mannequins. 

One module focuses only on respiratory conditions at the moment. 

Students can, among other things, use a Stethoscope to read a patient monitor or wear oxygen masks. The holographic patient displays symptoms of asthma, including anaphylaxis and pulmonary embolism.

Over time, there will be more modules with increasing difficulty, from a view-only mode to an automated-decision mode, and possibly even an expert mode. 

Later versions will have more features, with the first version expected to be available later in the year.