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UID Medical QuARtet – designing augmented reality apps for medical environments

What needs to be considered when designing augmented reality apps for medical contexts? What special challenges have to be considered? We have now drawn up guidelines for you describing four design principles: Our UID Medical QuARtet helps UX designers identify and adequately address risks in order to make full use of the potentials of AR. And the best thing about the UID Medical QuARtet: it can be downloaded for free.

Augmented reality is perfectly suited to support doctors in their work by making procedures safer and more efficient. Many guidelines describing the use of AR have already been published. When using the technology in a medical context, however, there are a number of special challenges to master – from difficult lighting conditions to strict hygiene regulations and absolute precision when tracking and positioning the holograms. Anyone who uses AR in the medical field needs to be guaranteed 100% reliability, safety and precision – and this requires special guidelines: our UID Medical QuARtet.

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Project experience

The UID Medical QuARtet is based on our experience from the HoloMed research project. Together with our partners we are developing an application for the HoloLens AR glasses, which supports neurosurgeons during ventricular punctures. In this procedure, the surgeons puncture ventricles filled with brain fluid by drilling a hole in the skull and inserting a catheter. But the catheter is only placed at the right position in two out of three punctures.

HoloMed reduces this high error rate since the CT and MRT data of the patient’s head are projected with millimeter precision on the real head. Additional graphical elements help the surgeons to locate the correct position and angle for the puncture. And since we don’t want to let all the experience we have gained in the course of the project go to waste, we have decided to draw up guidelines to help UX designers in developing AR applications for the medical environment.

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Principles for AR

Our guidelines summarize the do’s & don’ts in four topics, making them palpable with images and illustrative examples. They show, for example, how a clear and focused design eliminates distractions, providing more safety in surgeries. And it is just as important for UX designers to consider the environment – such as bright lights in the operating room – when choosing contrasts and colors.

Another major advantage of AR is that virtual elements can be displayed right at the real points of reference. In the case of HoloMed, the drilling angle is shown exactly where the neurosurgeon needs it – right beside the puncture site on the head. We have decided to use pulsating elements to illustrate the angle so as to avoid that the projection constantly covers the surgical site.

These are just some of the helpful tips contained in our UID Medical QuARtet. Download the guidelines for free to learn more.

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