Vostars project: augmented reality in the operating room
Funded by the European Commission with 3.8 million euro under Horizon 2020, the “Video Optical See-Through Augmented Reality Surgical System (Vostars)” project, coordinated by the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Pisa, has been recently started. This three-year project involves a number of Italian and European partners, including research bodies, companies of this sector and clinical centres.
This is a hybrid wearable display that can assist and also “guide” the eyes and hands of surgeons during an operation, which will be developed based on state-of-the-art research in the field of “augmented reality”. What is augmented reality? Differently from virtual reality, augmented reality does not create an environment at the side of the real one, but it integrates the latter with surgeons' perception in order to “navigate” it.
It is reasonable to think that the degree of acceptance of this new technology among physicians will depend on the quality of the augmented reality experience offered, i.e. on how well and to what extent the virtual content is integrated into the real world spatially, temporally and photometrically: this is why the research focuses on wearable and ergonomic systems that can be easily introduced into the surgical practice.
“Thanks to this technology – explained Vincenzo Ferrari, researcher of biomedical engineering and project coordinator – the surgeon will have information such as the heartbeat, blood oxygenation and all patient’s parameters into his line of sight, without taking his eyes off the operating field. Moreover, he will be able to see all medical information acquired before and during the surgery, perfectly in line with the patient’s anatomy in order to provide the surgeon with a virtual X-ray view to guide his hand with extreme precision”.
Most of the project will be carried out at the Centre for Computer-Assisted Surgery “EndoCAS” of the University of Pisa, where the experts in wearable augmented reality will join Vincenzo Ferrari in coordinating the project. The project partners also include School for Advanced Studies Sant’Anna in Pisa, University of Bologna, the Universitaetsmedizin of Berlin, the Technische Universitaet of Munich, Germany and important companies of the biomedical sector.
In the picture: an augmented reality application in the operating room