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Advanced Technologies and Social Distancing in Healthcare: VR, AR, AI, and VO!

In a time of extreme measures such as social distancing in order to protect the population from potentially devastating outcomes due to COVID-19, people are turning to technology now more than ever for advanced healthcare and support. In addition to telemedicine, one form of technology that has already seen rapid growth over the past year and is expected to see even more investment in the coming year, is extended reality (or XR) technologies. Extended reality such as virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), can help patients (and people in general) who are unable to leave their homes for safety reasons. According to XRHealth, VR technologies can offer assistance and support to patients in isolation as well as medical care they might not be able to access otherwise. Artificial intelligence (AI) is also starting to take off in medicine. This could also mean lessening the work-load of overextended health care workers.

Having spent the first part of my career as a design engineer for an orthopedic company designing hip and knee implants, I know first-hand how good it can feel to work for a company that’s producing a product that can truly help people. Now, in the voice over industry, I can help by informing or guiding people that may be uncertain or scared. In this current epidemic situation, and in the medical industry in general, XR is a technology with a lot of potential to truly help people. 

What is AR-VR?

With VR headsets, users are fully immersed in virtual environments whether for entertainment, education, marketing, medicine or therapeutic needs. AR on the other hand, adds virtual elements to the user’s view of the real world through a headset or screen, like with snapchat filters or Pokémon Go. This is a hot industry at the moment with global spending on XR technologies expected to increase by 78.5% this year – perhaps even more in light of the current epidemic. 

Where does Voice Over Fit in?

In almost every application, audio is a crucial component in XR technologies. While it has been traditionally used for gaming, another huge voice industry, there is an increasing trend toward industrial applications. VR can be used to simulate dangerous environments and thus may play a vital role in training in the future, not to mention a safe alternative to in-person contact at the moment. AR can be used to boost efficiency by helping identify potential hazards and providing vital information about whatever is in front of the user.

What about the Medical Industry?

VR has already been used for therapeutic purposes to treat people with anxiety and phobias as well as help people with autism learn about social cues. It can also be used for diagnostic purposes. AR in health care is expected to grow 38% every year until 2025. Potential applications include helping surgeons both in the theatre and in training, guiding users to defibrillator devices, helping nurses locate veins, among others. These trends in advancements are likely to continue to increase as they will help cut costs and improve patient outcomes. Not only that, as XR technologies become more common and accessible, medical services offered through them will be more easily distributed. Given the current need for technological solutions, XR can provide a telehealth platform for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

AI in Medicine

Over the past year, AI has played an increasingly large role in medicine. In health, AI uses algorithms to estimate thought patterns of healthcare professionals. Studies have shown that AI has been as effective (and in some cases even more effective) in diagnostics than doctors. This could have an impact in fields like pathology and radiology, where diagnostics are at the forefront. In terms of voice over trends in medicine, both AI (think Siri, Alexa, or Google assistant) and human voices are being used. The type of voice you use can influence your brand but also impact how people feel interacting with AI. In a medical setting, comforted and informed is ideal.

The Increasing Trend of Remote Education

As social distancing measures continue to be taken, schools and universities remain closed, including many medical educational institutions. As a result, people are turning to online and eLearning technologies for academic solutions. Most classes are turning virtual with lectures being given via zoom or skype. While this is the current situation, it might signal a change for the organization of the education system as we know it. While video chatting provides a temporary solution, advanced technologies such as AR and VR may the basis for restructuring the classrooms of the future.

The Heart of Healthcare

These current trends and technological advancements can offer new possibilities and hope in a world reeling from the current crisis. While continuing growth and advancement of these technologies is critical, there is still an innate need for compassion and humanity at the very heart of it all. This is something that cannot be replaced by technology. Resist the urge to fight technology - rather, walk along side it. Your voice is needed! Are you up for the challenge?

Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.



About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold.  Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.  



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