August 15, 2019
Technologies like 3D printing and artificial intelligence get a lot of attention for all the promise they hold in fields like manufacturing, aviation and renewable energy. But they’re also enabling previously unheard-of advances a little closer to home: at the doctor’s office. Just ask Adeline Digard, GE Healthcare’s director of digital product management in France, who recently sat down with GE Reports to explain how 3D printing, AI and virtual reality are becoming key players in healthcare — and how GE Healthcare is leading the transformation. “We want to simplify and improve the workflow for our customers by automating it as much as possible,” Digard said, “to make them more efficient and better able to focus on treating their patients.”
The next dimension: What’s that look like in practice? For doctors, it means the possibility of 3D-printing models of patient anatomy to better analyze a problem — and to better explain to an anxious patient how that problem can be treated. Virtual reality can help surgeons better navigate through complex parts of the body, while artificial intelligence can greatly improve workflow at the clinic. When routine tasks can be handled by software, doctors have more time to concentrate on the jobs that only they can do. “That is, in fact, the entire point of AI,” Digard said. “To allow physicians to focus their attention on what is critical for their patients, not spend time on the tedious tasks.”
Learn more here about how 21st-century tech is changing healthcare.
Virtual reality, as mentioned above, isn’t just for gamers anymore — not that the marriage of gaming and VR is faltering, as the craze for Pokémon GO attests. But VR and its close cousin, augmented reality, are far bigger than your smartphone, and increasingly instrumental in fields as diverse as healthcare, engineering and green energy. Workers assembling wind turbines at a GE Renewable Energy facility in Pensacola, Florida, for instance, don “smart glasses” to quickly access digitized directions; they can also consult training videos, or chat with an expert through a live video connection. “We’ve seen empirically across GE that we can make a heck of a dent in the skills gap by giving workers information on demand to do their jobs more powerfully,” said Brian Ballard, CEO and co-founder of Upskill, whose software powers the glasses.
Expertise on demand: VR and AR can play important roles on the job site, but they also factor much earlier in the process, too. On any given afternoon, trainee field engineers at GE Grid Solutions in suburban Paris learn to control enormous cranes to lift high-voltage circuit breakers into place in electrical substations — but they’re learning cheaply, safely and quickly through VR headsets in a small conference room, no actual circuit breakers required. Augmented reality headsets are also helping train ultrasound technicians in developing countries where training is otherwise scarce. There, the headsets help trainees scan the bodies of dummy patients, find certain organs and capture them properly in an ultrasound scan.
Click here for a roundup of the many applications GE businesses are finding around the world for VR and AR — there’s nothing virtual about these benefits.
— QUOTE OF THE DAY —
“When we’re finished, we have an algorithm that’s been trained on an extraordinarily large and complicated database, and 95% of the time, despite however many complexities, it can still visualize the vertebrae correctly from neck to bottom. That’s called deep learning.”
— Adeline Digard, director of digital product management at GE Healthcare in France
Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE Healthcare.
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