New technologies and the evolution of science in recent years have radically changed the panorama in the healthcare and educational fields, with benefits that were unimaginable until recently, but which bring with them problems for workers, teachers and students related to this sector: many systems, devices and techniques used in daily work are becoming increasingly complex and automated, so that healthcare professionals need specific training or, at best, updating.
In the educational area, due to the high acquisition cost of many devices used in hospital centers, their complexity and their danger (for example, in the field of radiological protection), students in health care training centers cannot know how this equipment works or the real environment they will be faced with in the future.
The training of these students is moving away from the reality that they will encounter in their future work and this is a problem both for the students themselves and for the biomedical companies.
The origin of the project EXTENDED REALITY IN BIOMEDICAL ENVIRONMENTS occurs in the academic year 2017-2018 within the project of the Ministry of Education of the Canary Islands Government called Enlaza. Enlaza pursues, on the one hand, the incorporation of innovation management in the center’s management system and, on the other hand, the development of an innovation project in one of the professional families. The main objectives of Enlaza were the following:
– To promote knowledge management and applied innovation in Vocational Training Centers, incorporating innovation management into the quality management system and the accreditation of innovation managers of educational centers.
– To develop innovation projects in the professional family of interest for teachers and/or workers of the sector, applicable in the teaching activity and exportable to the rest of the centers.
– To promote innovation in the teaching activity through the incorporation of new methodologies and work tools. Within this context, the project EXTENDED REALITY IN BIOMEDICAL ENVIRONMENTS was born, which was initially called “Tele-training and mixed reality laboratory” and had the objective of bringing the hospital reality closer to the health cycles taught in this center, mainly the Clinical and Biomedical Laboratory.
In a first phase, initiated during the 2017-2018 academic year and continued in 2018-2019, the aim was to connect the company with the educational world through HoloLens glasses technology, in an interactive, dynamic, bidirectional, innovative way and using mixed reality. Through this device, by means of tele-training, a professional gave a talk from the environment where he/she worked (real environment) or presented a practical case using as materials both the elements he/she had in his/her workplace and virtual elements (mixed reality) that were created for such training. In essence, it was a videoconference via Skype or Teams with 2D or 3D holographic elements included in the talk and with the possibility for the speaker to move in his environment and answer the questions of the students, who were in their educational center watching what the speaker saw, in a simple and live way. All the material generated an audiovisual resource that could be used later. During these two courses (2017/18 and 2018/19) 12 tele-trainings were carried out in different environments (not exclusively biomedical, with the idea of seeing the transversality of the tool). The following video shows an example of a tele-training carried out from the microbiology laboratory of the University Hospital of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria by the physician Diego García:
Also, in 2018-2019 work began on a new line of work that seeks to create holographic simulators of biomedical devices with functionalities similar to those of a real device. Students from CIFP César Manrique collaborated with CIFP Los Gladiolos designing 10 elements of a microbiology laboratory. To four of them they added, using Unity HoloLens, simple functionalities (a button to activate an image, for example). The following video shows the result:
Likewise, during the 2018-2019 academic year, a tool was tested that seeks to recreate biomedical work environments in a simple, faithful and fast way. To this end, the companies GEOAVANCE and BIMSeven, specialists in adapting BIM methodology in the construction sector in a fully customized way, were contacted. For this test, it was chosen to virtually build a microbiology laboratory that was scanned and then taken to a point cloud and virtually designed in a faithful way in a short time. The following video shows the work done:
During the 2019-2020 academic year, we continued to explore the possibilities of tele-training and began to work on holographic tutorials with HoloLensusing the Dynamics 365 Guides program, which is a very interesting tool for the hospital environment, as can be seen in the following video:
The circumstances related to the pandemic situation caused by SARS-CoV-2 have made the REEB project even more meaningful and this was understood by the Erasmus + commission that chose the project within the KA203 Strategic Partnerships line, to develop it during the next 3 courses.