Last month, a mix of scientists, videographers and surgeons made history, capturing an entire surgery in first-person 3D and then turning it into an Oculus Rift experience.
The end result is, the team hopes, a new way to train medical students and surgeons. The next step, according to the MOVEO Foundation, which funded the project, is to create the first "live surgery" operation that will be filmed and broadcast on a virtual reality helmet simultaneously.
Remi Rousseau, a French engineer involved in the project, emailed us to let us know how things went and send along a walkthrough of the process. I've included it here along with the full video at the bottom.
This is a real surgery, so be warned, there is blood:
The video was shot in the European Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris, Rousseau says.
While the Rift isn't a tool suitable for medical procedures (Sony's HMM-3000MT head-mounted display is, Rousseau says), it is a great training tool for surgeons to watch a surgery and learn from their peers, he says.
Typically a surgeon in training has to stand close by and try to watch what the surgeon is doing. (That's what's going on in this picture: the student is on the far left of the picture.) Because the student is helping, they can't always concentrate on the surgery itself. "Being able to live a surgery in the surgeon's shoes thanks to the Rift will be very useful to share and learn new techniques among physicians," Rousseau said.
"And for the rest of us non-surgeons, it will be one of the hundreds of lives you'll live through the Rift!"
Dr. Thomas Gregory, the surgeon who performed the surgery.
The video was captured with a GoPro Dual Hero system worn on Dr. Gregory's head.
Dr. Gregory masking up.
The team wanted to use the full fisheye lenses for the GoPro, which would have given them a 200-degree field of view, but if they did the lenses wouldn't have fit in the case anymore. That would have made the system harder to clean before the surgery. Maybe next time, Rousseau said.
The positional tracking works perfectly in the Oculus Rift experience, allowing you to lean in on the patient during the "interesting moments."
All of these photos were taken by Rannjan Joawn and used on Polygon with permission from Rousseau.
And that's a wrap.
The project was funded by the MOVEO Foundation, which aims to "modernize the medical treatment of osteoarticular pathologies by using new technology." The foundation was created by Dr. Thomas Gregory.
You can read a bit more on Rousseau's take on Oculus Rift and medicine here.
Here's the full video explaining the process and showing part of the surgery. And if you have an Oculus Rift and a strong stomach, you can find the link to the experience here.