It’s VR to the rescue yet again, as a new app built by a University of North Florida student could dramatically improve cancer treatment.
VRvisu was created by Jason Smith, who is a senior computing and information sciences student at the university. Smith created it under the guidance of Dr. Sandeep Reddivari, a UNF assistant professor of computing.
Using MRI scans, the app recreates a patient’s tumor inside VR at an accurate scale. The doctor is then able to pull on a headset and inspect the tumor in detail, with relevant information appearing in breakout boxes within the virtual space. Helping doctors to better understand the nature of a patient’s cancer better at an earlier stage can assist them with treatment and surgeries going forward.
Smith has been using an HTC Vive for the project though, instead of the kit’s position-tracked controllers, he can be seen on News 4 Jax using a Leap Motion sensor for hand-tracking. This allows him to more realistically handle the virtual tumor.
Smith has been working on the project for about five months as part of his university project, but it’s only in prototype form right now. Much of the work was done at home. He plans to continue building it out and could potentially find other applications for the software in the future. It’s a little too early to tell if this kind of project could roll out for global use, but it looks like the foundation of something important is there.
VR is finding plenty of use as a healthcare tool with similar applications. In some cases, doctors are also using 3D visualizations to help better inform patients of their conditions, while in one case a heart scan brought to life inside Google Cardboard even helped save a baby’s life. Expect to see plenty more reports of this kind of use of the technology going forward.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Jason Smith as an Assistant Professor.