A virtual reality program helping future doctors hone their surgical skills

PHOENIX – This fall, medical students at the University of Arizona will add major technologies to their curriculum.

Valley company 8CHILI showcased its new virtual reality program aimed at improving the skills of future surgeons at Wear Tech Labs in Phoenix.

“So this is a 3D camera that has a 210-degree field of view,” the company’s chief operating officer, Moh Barathan, said as he put a lightweight camera on his head.

Explaining how the process works, he says top surgeons have worn these cameras while recording complex surgeries from a first-person perspective.

It’s what they do with the after video, though, where the real magic happens.

“It’s standard hardware, out of the box, it’s Meta Ocular 2,” Barathan said, holding up a store-bought VR headset.

He says they integrated these surgeries into a virtual reality program called HintVR.

“So what we’re going to do is look at a bunch of surgeries that we have so it’s open-heart surgery,” Barathan said as he launched the software.

Once attached to the Oculus headset, medical students work on hand positioning and posture as the system notes them along the way. Follow a surgeon step by step through countless surgeries.

“8Chili was created from the ground up to use very innovative approaches to capturing 3D content and, more importantly, to use 3D content and use it in terms of impacting lives in very important ways,” said Navin Govind, Chief Growth Officer.

The program allows people to take journeys into the human brain and other parts of the body while listening to lectures from doctors along the way. This fall, the options will expand even further.

“Suture, different types of incisions, spinal tap or lumbar puncture, these are some of the modules that are being developed in collaboration with U of A Health Science,” Govind said.

They hope that virtual reality will ultimately give our communities better real-world healthcare professionals.

Ryan H. Bowman