Evan Gappelberg

Augmented reality reimagining medical conferences

March 08, 2021
By Evan Gappelberg

The global pandemic has dramatically accelerated the need to reimagine the way we connect, meet and collaborate with each other across nearly every industry, including the medical field. In 2020, most medical conferences cancelled or rescheduled and moved to a virtual event. Innovations in virtual technologies, specifically enterprise-grade streaming platforms with AR capabilities, are playing an increasingly larger role in facilitating productive collaboration between medical professionals while also giving organizers the opportunity to open their doors to a broader, more global audience.

Global access to resources through virtual platforms
When delivering presentations, demos and other learning opportunities, the use of augmented reality (AR) visuals and holograms can transform how the medical field communicates and collaborates by giving them new ways to allow industry professionals and vendors to participate even though they may be miles apart. For events that seek to draw global audiences, other valuable accessibility tools include real-time language translation and AI-enabled chatbots, search integration and live support. Platforms that offer options to replay content are also incredibly important, particularly for medical conferences and trade shows where attendees may want to review a speech or presentation. This feature is also crucial for global participants who may not have the ability to tune in live.

Through AR, event organizers can create virtual stages that look and feel like actual spaces with audiences sitting safely behind computer screens at keyboards in their own homes, able to ask questions and interact in real time, while providing an unparalleled immersive and interactive experience. Host organizations should also explore ways to customize the event interface for a more personalized, branded look. Many emerging virtual experience platforms enable organizers to create unique, branded digital venues without compromising on reliability and scalability.

Education is becoming democratized as the travel and cost limitations of these industry events are removed. Even for the larger conferences, the elimination of a physical venue and travel costs for speakers can help reduce operating expenses and further drive prices down to make education accessible to everyone in the medical field. Many medical professionals have even welcomed the announcement that major in-person conferences have been cancelled and will be conducted virtually.

Physicians have historically relied on in-person conferences and meetings to receive continuing education credits to maintain their skills and to learn new techniques, which can be challenging to translate to a fully virtual event. With the adoption of transformative technologies such as VR and artificial intelligence, conference organizers have the ability to track attendees’ journeys to allow for a seamless administration of continuing education credits. For events which utilize attendee tracking, downloadable footage and other data sharing tools, security must also be a priority, particularly during medical industry events when assets being shared could contain proprietary research or sensitive information, Hosting your event on a platform that offers end-to-end encryption can ensure that attendee and organization data is protected.

The medical industry works with many large, complex technologies that can now be accessed and viewed in 3D from any mobile device. Holograms used at medical conventions and events can provide attendees with the ability to see large medical equipment that simply could not be brought in as a demonstration at an in-person expo or event.

Lessons learned
The industry was already on a trajectory to leverage these platforms for education and engagement through various association-backed events, the pandemic simply accelerated their use and inspired virtual experience companies to upgrade their most immersive and engaging offerings.

While nothing can replace the camaraderie that happens at a live, in-person conference, AR has opened up a world of possibilities and will continue to open up doors for creativity and innovation for years to come, and as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes readily available across the globe, conference organizers should capitalize on virtual events and provide an enhanced hybrid in-person/virtual experience moving forward.

About the author: Evan Gappelberg is the CEO of Nextech AR (OTCQB: NEXCF), one of the leaders in the quickly growing augmented reality market, and an accomplished entrepreneur with an expertise in creating, funding and running start-ups.