Future doctors learn human anatomy using virtual reality simulations

For centuries, the practice of dissecting cadavers is how future doctors have learned about the anatomy of the human body. Medical students at the University of California San Francisco, however, are using virtual reality training as an optional component in their first-year curriculum, allowing them to explore the human body before ever setting foot in an actual lab.

Knowledge of anatomy is the foundation of all medical knowledge, and VR lets med students get a more complete understanding of the complex structures that make up our bodies.

Assistant Professor of Anatomy Derek Harmon, PhD, told Science Blog that he thinks it’s an important addition to the school’s curriculum. “Virtual reality is exciting for me as an anatomy instructor because it is going to help enhance the students’ understanding of the arrangement of the body,” he said. “Because the better they know the body, the better physicians they will end up being for the rest of their careers.”

Textbooks and actual dissections of cadavers are useful, but VR adds a whole new dimension to the instruction. Students can remove each layer individually, from the skin all the way down to bones. The VR interface allows them to better understand the interaction between muscles, organs, nerves, and blood vessels. “It’s a learning experience almost like putting a puzzle together,” Harmon said.

The VR simulation learning is part of UCSF’s Bridges Curriculum, a revolutionary new program at the School of Medicine that emphasizes new ways of looking at the interconnected nature of health care.

Surgeons have already broadcast actual operations in VR, and some can even prep for upcoming procedures by practicing every step in VR before they even enter operating room.

Kimberly Topp, a PhD and Professor of Physical Therapy and Anatomy at UCSF, says there are many more real-world medical experiences that VR can simulate, such as what a doctor might encounter in an emergency room. “It is hard to simulate a realistic trauma experience where nobody is going to get hurt,” she said. “This is a great way to get students more comfortable with the actual clinical environment that they are headed into.”

“People are really wowed when using virtual reality. That is how I think it is going to help students remember the anatomy that is so dense in their education,” she added.

On the other hand, for the rest of us who may not be up for the rigors of medical school, we can always buckle on an Oculus Rift headset and give Surgeon Simulator a try.

Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.