A virtual reality device called Google Cardboard – which costs less than 20 dollars – helped save a baby’s life.
Doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami saved a life of a baby, which was so sick that it was on the very brink of death. Teegan Lexcen was born in August with a heart and lung defect so unusual that doctors had never seen it before. She has only one lung, and almost all of the left half of her heart is missing.
The VR tech has been in development for some time now and with the progress of shrinking electronic components – it is finally possible to have a non-cumbersome kit of equipment at home that opens the mind of the user to new and fascinating experiences. VR is not a complicated tech. It is similar to the one used in 3D display panels, only those small displays are placed in a helmet type of casing and are positioned in front of the eyes of the wearer. Chips, also located in the headset, provide image and sound processing and thus a fully immersive experience is provided to the user.
Google made the news when it offered to the world, blueprints of its Cardboard device which gave us a cheap and easy way to taste VR by using our mobile phones. It is necessary to have a capable mobile phone for it to work. The use of 360-degree videos and images is what makes Google Cardboard very exciting – it offers a chance of exploring the world from the comfort of your home. It is bound to dominate in the use of professionals, education, and research.
By using the simple cardboard cutout that houses a mobile phone, the doctors were able to see the baby’s heart in 3D on the screen and to accordingly plan their way before performing the operation. The simple device allowed the a full view of the heart in three dimensions which made planning the incision and surgery that would be most efficient and least damaging to the baby.
Doctors were using an app called Sketchfab to download the images of the baby’s heart to an iPhone and then used them to plan the procedure as best as they could. The difficulty was in the process of planning the best way to access the baby’s heart and after that to perform the procedure to save her life.
The 4-month-old baby has a heart that is positioned to the left side of her chest, which made the conventional procedure a possible trauma for someone so young and fragile. By using Google Cardboard supplied imaging surgeons were able to minimize the stress on baby’s body which was already weakened by sickness.
The VR device enabled them to perform the best possible procedure and, in the end, the baby recovered and will be released to go home after a few weeks and make a full recovery. The procedure was a complete success and it enlightens us to what great things can happen when technology is put to best use.
By Nikola F.