Gaining context for a research problem

Gaining context for the research problem we’re trying to help solve

Last week, we hosted a Scithon in collaboration with Stryker, Augmented Vision and Freiburg University Medical Center. We put a group of medical engineers, IT experts, neurosurgeons and urologists in a room to discuss and research methods for advancing Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality in surgical settings. What made this particular group of Scithon Participants unique was the high level of expertise related to the research topic subject matter.  Even before beginning to research the feasibility of AR/VR surgical innovations, almost all of the doctors already had a good baseline of specific features or use cases that would be most beneficial to them.  And the views between neurosurgeons and urologists regarding the usability and implementation of innovative technology in the Operating Room varied greatly. It seemed clear that no matter the outcome of the day’s research, the feasibility of using AR/VR in the OR wasn’t the biggest obstacle to overcome.  So, before we outline the results of the research, we want to the highlight a few of the learnings from the discussions that took place over the course of the Scithon.  These learnings provided valuable context for the day’s research and gave us better insight into the pain points behind the research question.


Coming into the Scithon, it was interesting to see what types of technologies the doctors had begun to familiarize themselves with and which ones they preferred. One of the urologists touted his ‘bootstrapped’ method of incorporating Google’s Cardboard into his work while other teams of neurosurgeons already begun investigating how best to use Microsoft’s HoloLens. Other doctors expressed frustration at the speed of their colleagues’ ability to embrace and adapt to new technologies. And still, others, questioned the practicality of implementing a new technology that will need to be replaced in 3 years or even worse, could be obsolete in that same period of time.  Even with the ability to use groundbreaking technology, there are other issues creating barriers for implementation. Hospital budgets, time spent training doctors,  access to up to date research and data,  IT maintenance, etc are all factors in delayed or even non-use of state of the art technology.


How residents and doctors time is spent was a recurring theme mentioned throughout the day. The finite preciousness of doctor’s time is a never ending issue. Several participants stated it was difficult being able to attend today’s Scithon, let alone focus on their own research. The sacrifice of their time did pay off, as all they agreed that the Scithon was a valuable use of their time. It allowed for a ‘meeting of the minds’ type atmosphere facilitating extensive discussions among a range of medical specialties.    And many were interested in the long-term possibilities of using Iris.AI’s platform to expedite their institution’s research.  Ability to save time was a vital feature that all participants were interested in, regardless of specific technology.


We gained numerous insights from the medical technology provider and manufacturer group of participants as well.  We could relate to them as we were both in the position of watching, in real time, others using our products and platform.  The participants from Stryker shared a few industry insights like Microsoft’s shift from AR back to their primary Cloud based product offerings and how that might affect their future involvement with the AR field.  They also discussed a slight gap between product features and product implementation in the medical field, as some doctors had mentioned their products were too complex for what they needed. Simply put, the current technological solutions were overbuilt.  The feedback is at the forefront of their minds as they continue to create products for the medical community.
They say if you build it, they will come it. Well, now the question is, can they build it? Does AR/VR have a place in surgical settings and if so, how can it best be implemented?