NurseHack4Health Hackathon Augmented Reality


Posted on May 18, 2020

Last weekend I worked with a team on the NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon.

Innovative Augmented Reality opportunities

Constantly thinking about how Augmented Reality could be leveraged in a number of industries and verticals, I already had a concept in my head of showing patient details in Augmented Reality which I called..

P.A.R.I.S = Patient Augmented Reality Information System

It was this idea, a list of benefits using AR in this manner and a rough sketch of a possible layout of information that I pitched at the start of the event to build my team.

The team

One thing this hackathon wasn't short of was medical expertise, literally hundreds and hundreds of nurses and medical professionals attended to join forces with developers to develop innovative solutions.

Pitching the idea of P.A.R.I.S to would-be team members was relatively easy and before long I had a decent sized team wanting to work on the idea with a mixture of skillsets and most importantly valuable medical knowledge.

The initial concept

My initial proof of concept image can be seen below. The idea was that important patient information could be shown in AR once the patient had been identified using Image Recognition (A QR Code in this case). 

My believe is that once the hardware has caught up with the software, and lightweight AR glasses have become mainstream, this would allow medical practitioners to see accurate, up-to-date patient information at a glance without having to handle physical paper notes or a physical computer. This would help improve efficiency and reduce the risk of infection.

No alt text provided for this image

The team then took my idea, applied actual medical knowledge and scenarios to it (always helpful) regarding what information and medical terms such an interface may show and came up with a fantastic UI for me to implement in Augmented Reality,

Developing the concept

Members of the team worked well autonomously putting together arguments of the benefits of AR in this healthcare scenario as well as looking at the marketability and route to market. Something that was surprisingly given a lot of focus during this hackathon that I must say I haven't seen in others except 'Startup Weekends'.

Developing the MVP

As you can see below, the teams proposed UI was much better than my original and included actual useful medical information. 

No alt text provided for this image

The App in action..

I developed the app taking into account our new proposed UI. The result can be seen below.

And to prove that it uses Image Recognition to identify QR Codes..

The technology

For those interested in the technology; the MVP app used pretty simple (and rushed) code with zero specialised hardware needed. The app was written in Visual Studio for Mac using C#, .NET, Xamarin and ARKit and deployed to my iOS 10 mobile phone.

More information about my experiments with Augmented Reality and examples for others to try can be found on my website XamarinArkit.com or my YouTube channel.

Hackathon result

Unfortunately we did not win our category, but we all learnt a great deal and I am grateful for everyone in the team for their efforts.

Surprisingly, immediately after the event it seems that this Augmented Reality proof of concept app has inspired a number of people on social media and turned a number of heads. I hope to build more interfaces like this in future.

The future of Augmented Reality

I find a lot of detractors when it comes to the future possibilities of Augmented Reality.

I put those people in one of the following camps.

  • They lack the imagination of how AR could be applied to multiple real world scenarios
  • They lack the awareness of how close some manufacturers are to producing viable mainstream AR glasses/headsets or are skeptical about them
  • They are envious they cannot develop or be involved in AR themselves
  • They have an existing product that would be be disrupted by an AR alternative

But if progress stopped because of a few detractors, we wouldn't have half the innovations we have today.

The future of Augmented Reality is an exciting one and as a software developer able to leverage and build AR experiences I am super excited about what awaits and will continue to share the power and possibilities of AR with as many people as I can.

Summary

Hackathons are a fantastic way form a team to use a new technology to solve a problem in an innovative way. If you ever get the chance to attend one, I strongly suggest you take it and with many hackathons moving online because of social distancing the opportunity to partake in virtual hackathons has never been better. Check out DevPost.com to see upcoming hackathons and how organisations and businesses are leveraging hackathons to reach the expertise and skills of innovative people around the world to help them build solutions to problems quickly.

Whether you like it or not, Augmented Reality is coming. It is powerful, fun and cool all at the same time. It will be everywhere before you know it. If you don't want to be left behind, start thinking about or implementing it now.

Watch this space.

And follow me on Twitter.

-- Lee