Space & Innovation

World's First VR Surgery to Stream Live This Week

Click around a 360-degree view of live surgical operation on your PC, mobile device or VR headset. Continue reading →

If you're looking for a different way to spend an afternoon this week, why not peek in on a cancer operation live streaming from a British surgical center? Seriously, what else do you have planned?

London surgeon Shafi Ahmed will perform the operation on Thursday, April 14, as part of a program designed to educate medical students - and the public at large - about surgical training. The procedure will be filmed by multiple cameras using cutting-edge virtual reality technology.

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If you happen to have a VR headset like the Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear, you can get the full virtual-reality experience, including a 360-degree view from the central camera positioned above the operating table. You can also get a cheap-seats VR view of the operation using your smartphone, the Google Cardboard device, and this app.

Or you can simply visit the Medical Realities website for a browser-based live video of the operation. You'll still get the 360-degree view off the central camera - just click and drag around the image to look around.

Billed as the world's first live virtual reality surgical operation, the broadcast is powered by Mativision cameras, which use multiple lenses to capture panoramic views. The different camera angles are stitched together in real time and sent out in the live video feed.

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In this case, there will a short "tape delay" in case anything unexpected occurs during the, you know, life-or-death cancer surgery. Mativision cameras are typically used to live stream panoramic views of music concerts and other live events.

Dr. Ahmed, a consultant surgeon at St Bartholomew's hospital in London, performed a similar operation in 2014, live-streaming the procedure using Google Glass. That operation was viewed by around 13,000 surgical students and healthcare professionals in more than 100 countries.

Thursday's operation will be the first time that virtual reality technology is incorporated into the mix.

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The patient, by the way, is a 70-year-old British man who apparently is totally cool with the situation.

"He is really up for it," Ahmed told U.K. newspaper The Guardian. "I've gone through things with him and he genuinely is really interested in the project and wants to help."

Click over to the event site for developing details on when the excitement will commence. Meanwhile, here's a demo video on the Virtual Surgeon system.

click to play video

This past week in Las Vegas, thousands of people attended the Consumer Electronics Show, where exhibitors showed off the latest in electronic devices. Among the technologies trending were virtual reality gadgets. From goggles to full-body suits to omni-directional treadmills, here's a look at the latest advances in virtual reality.

Microsoft's HoloLens is a wearable holographic system that works with Windows 10. It allows people to project apps onto a variety of surfaces and use them to visualize data, CAD renderings and more.

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The long-awaited release date of the Oculus Rift system has finally arrived. Looks like the VR goggles will ship in March at a cost of about $599. Pre-orders available now.

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At the Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung showed off its Gear VR, an Oculus headset that accommodates a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. The company also demonstrated Rink, a pair of handheld, gesture-based controllers meant to be used with the Samsung Gear VR.

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Look out gamers. PlayStation announced that it's working on more than 100 new games for its forthcoming virtual reality headset.

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Google Cardboard's inexpensive virtual reality goggles inspired others to produce cheaper versions that are compatible with the company's apps. Speck announced its Pocket VR and I Am Cardboard announced its DSCVR Headset -- both designed to display content created for Google's Cardboard VR.

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At the Consumer Electronics Show, HTC released its Vive Pre, a headset meant mainly for developers. It has a front-facing camera that gives wearers a view into the real world. The consumer version of the Vive is expected to begin shipping in April.

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Along with the goggles and headsets that make virtual reality possible, electronic companies are also coming out with gadgets the expand the sensory limits beyond vision. For example, the Tesla Suit from Tesla Studios is a full-body suit that contains small sensors that send out tiny electrical pulses to stimulate different parts of the body, depending on the action happening in the virtual world. You can help fund the Kickstarter campaign

here

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The Vico VR is a wireless tracking device that senses a person's body movements and incorporates those movements in real-time into the virtual world. Here, a player uses the sensor to box.

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Virtuix announced its omni-directional treadmill at last year's Consumer Electronics Show, but this year they used it to host the first-ever eSports tournament in VR. There were four HTC Vive headsets connected to four treadmills. Participants could sign up to join a competitive multiplayer shooter game called Omni Arena.

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