Telementoring—a relationship between a medical expert and a trainee in a remote location that is facilitated by communication technologies—is not a new concept, but it is gaining increased attention as the ultra-high speeds of 5G and other new technologies promise to overcome past limitations.
In the field of dentistry, veterans in Japan typically instruct new dentists in person, and the knowledge and skills of these trainees is largely dependent on the instruction they receive at clinics. To alleviate this, there is a growing need for online instruction and remote support for surgical procedures.
Seeing an opportunity to address this need, Holoeyes, Inc., in cooperation with Dental Prediction Co., Ltd. and SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434), began trials in July 2021 to verify the effectiveness of using XR—which stands for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR)—technologies with 5G networks to support dental surgery.
In this trial that is scheduled to continue until September 2021, dentist supervisors stationed in Tokyo are using VR and AR imaging technologies to provide guidance to young dentists based in Osaka, approximately 400km away, on diagnosing and treating patients, as well as support for surgical procedures. This remote support is achieved by utilizing a suite of 5G, XR and 3D printing technologies.
Transmitting VR and AR images over a 5G network to support dental implant surgery
The trial is fully utilizing these technologies to assist with dental implants, a surgical procedure for replacing missing teeth.
How is the procedure supported in the trial? First, a 3D model of a skull created by Dental Prediction based on patient data is used to share the required three-dimensional movements in the VR space. After reviewing case studies for diagnosis and treatment, and confirming the dissection procedures, supervising dentists manipulate the 3D model in the AR space while using a 3D printed model of the patient's jawbone to offer guidance to the young dentists. Young dentists get to experience a series of implant surgery procedures by practicing drilling holes in model skulls while referring to the AR images.
The goal of the trial is to prepare young dentists for actual patient surgeries at their dental clinics in Osaka while supervisors in Tokyo provide support through AR imaging.
By providing its ultra-high-speed and low-latency 5G network and a venue for the trial, SoftBank will continue to support the transmission of expertise to young dentists, no matter where they are located.
(Posted on July 30, 2021)
by SoftBank News Editors