It does not matter where you are in the world, you will be able to watch, move around the operating room, and take part in a cancer surgery procedure that will take place at Royal London Hospital on Thursday, April 14 at 1pm BST.
Dr. Shafi Ahmed, Barts NHS leading surgeon and co-founder of Medical Realities, a medical training company in UK, will perform the surgery.
This will be Dr. Ahmed's second time to perform an operation using augmented reality (AR) and VR technology. Back in 2014, he livestreamed an operation using Google Glass and has since been involved in publicly endorsing these types of technology as an effective learning tool for medical education.
Ahmed believes that virtual and augmented reality are great learning tools and could potentially change the way surgical education and training is done, particularly in developing countries with lesser resources and facilities.
Barts Hospital and Mativision, a VR video production technology company, are teaming up for the project. The actual surgery will be filmed at the Royal London Hospital. Two 360-degree cameras with multiple lenses will be used to provide 3D stereoscopic 360-degree video.
For as little as $14.29, anyone can purchase the Google Cardboard style headset and use any existing Android or iPhone as a mobile VR headset to watch the surgery remotely. Other consumer headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, Merge VR or Freefly VR may also be used. The app to view the operation is available for download on the Google Play or iTunes. Users without a VR headset, can livestream the surgery from the Medical Realities website.
Mativision's head of marketing, George Kapellos has expressed equal excitement about the project. This represents an important step forward in developing educational and scientific content for 360 video and emerging VR technology.
"It's a great example of how VR can become a powerful educational tool and extend its reach over and above entertainment," Kapellos said.
VR as an industry has existed for decades with custom systems that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. These headsets were used for simulation, training, and scientific research. With more and more headsets being available to consumers, virtual reality is becoming the next big platform similar to how mobile devices dominates today.