Virtual Medicine 2019 - VR in Healthcare Arrives

I attended Virtual Medicine conference at Cedars Sinai in LA and was struck by the reality of virtual reality in healthcare. It seems that 2019 is a landmark year, when VR in healthcare was less about ‘is this useful’ and more about specific science and technology needs.

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Hearing Dr. Rafael Grossmann speak and give overview of available look-through mixed reality headsets really drove home the point that this tech is here now so start building today. The chances to radically advance both training and practice of medicine are immense. His emphasis on Haptic technologies also keep pushing us forward to consider multisensory experiences.

Dr. Grossmann is part of #LeapNation and I am honored to get to chat with him on occasion as our Magic Leap developer/enthusiast community explores the potential of Spatial Computing.

Skip Rizzo of USC presented their work with digital agents, aka Virtual Humans, in therapy. Very compelling to see their research that humans will more likely be honest with a purely software agent than with a character with a human behind the face. A purely digital character can assuage their fears of judgement and opens up therapy pipeline to billions of people who would not otherwise have access, or courage to seek access.

Dr Shafi Ahmed presented an inspiring talk about using immersive tech to bridge the massive 5 billion person surgery access gap through training and direct intervention. He even is involved now in constructing a hospital. Dr. Ahmed is thinking massive scale, exponential tech to get education and collaborative surgery into the normal working reality.

This strikes a chord in me, as ever since a trip to Barcelona to see the Sagrada Familia I have become fascinated by a vision of hospitals becoming more architectural, more like churches: custom buildings designed to facilitate healing through their very structure, moving beyond florescent lights and particle board and toward deeply meaningful architecture.

Was compelling to hear from Dr David Rhew, head of Healthcare and Fitness at Samsung. Connecting the dots between visuals, tracking and even physical interventions via exoskeleton is a fascinating nexus that can yield impressive results. I continue to regret that exoskeleton technology was not available for my now deceased grandmother whom retained mental acuity as she was every year more and more confined to wheelchairs and seated postures. Directed walking interventions are a rich frontier, coupled with cognitive XR therapies we could see people living not just longer lives but better lives for longer times.

Heard a great talk from Dr. Brandon Birckhead on the scientific and economic realities of testing all this innovation. Innovation in the basic science side will be needed as well as the more ‘flashy’ applications arena. I am hoping that more companies will step up and help fund this research as it will create markets for their systems and hardware.

There were so many great talks and panels, I only got to see a handful, the full speakers list is available on the website, and hopefully they will make the videos available! Here are a collection of pictures from panels:

Closing out the conference, Dr. Brennan Spiegel showed a very useful spectrum to help situate what kind of experiences we can create and how to utilize them in a holistic manner. Along with a call to respect the real suffering that this new technology can address, and not over-promise. Immersive tech for medicine needs grounded science and respectful approaches, keep the hype in check even as the excitement grows!

Got to experience many different vendors displaying. Of note was just how many pain relief or relaxation VR experience companies there were, mostly using the Oculus Go system and 360º videos for content. This is a hot field and it will be fascinating to see what brands stick around by differentiating themselves through features, support, standardization, etc. Hospitals want to purchase VR for pain relief, patient comfort, and also training and simulation. Speaking with different vendors, particularly simulation vendors, was very enlightening. VR is a massive leap forward for training, as it will enable practitioners to get beyond just having tidbits and facts and toward practical readiness. VR training is a revolution already here, while VR therapeutics is still emerging.

Saw some new hardware too.

Experienced a surgical simulation inside of HP’s latest Windows Mixed Reality headset Reverb (specs here) and can confirm that the visuals are amazing. The quality of the display is finally good enough to let me totally forget that I’m looking at screens and focus instead on the content. This is the ‘retina display’ moment for VR hardware.

What really caught my eye was a 180º projector called Broomx capable of covering an entire room with projected images. This is an exciting development that could drastically reduce the cost of creating immersive CAVE systems.

UCSD Calit2 StarCAVE system 2012, photography by John Hanacek

CAVE systems have an immense benefit in being literal environments, allowing participants to use normal human social cues and gestures ‘for free’ without needing to build in avatars or any such things, and without the synchronization challenges and cost of getting each participant to wear individual spatial computing glasses like hololens or magic leap. Yet they are often constructed of many panels, either back projected or LCD screens. Having just a few Broomx projectors be able to cover a full 360º area drastically reduces cost and complexity, perhaps even brings portability to this powerful tool once reserved for labs, see below for example:

In closing, immersive technologies are here to stay for medicine, in both training and therapy.

A nexus of science, art and human practices is needed to move this possibility space forward into useful elements, networks and standards. There is still research needed and much work to do.

I aim to push into new frontiers with holohealing.com focusing on bringing ancient traditions and deep symbolism into look-through spatial computing headsets like Magic Leap and Hololens.

Exciting revolutionary change is happening right now, 2019 is immersive technology's arrival moment; from the labs and experiments to the real world.

Read more about related research conference:

Is 'Causality' Holding Medicine Back?

The modern physics (quantum observation) is galvanizing me to make the assertion that causality itself is not particularly useful to us– even if it is true and important– in a health intervention setting, but instead an emphasis should be on working with correlations and creating causality.

It matters less how smiling causes happiness than the fact that it does! 

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Consider a quantum information perspective: Physicists provide support for retrocausal quantum theory, in which the future influences the past

In my view, a coherent field description of activity and matter conceptualizes time as more of an ocean with waves and tides than a river - the whole system is available to itself always since it is itself, but perspective means localizing of possible observation and 'causality'. The wave seems to 'happen' but it returns to a coherence that it never left, and that happening is a pattern ongoing. Each wave is unique, but is never disconnected from the substrate of happening, the ocean. So the ocean is itself and is its state always, and its future even, but each wave must express time still and know only its unique state. This is an explanation that would allow 'intuition' to exist - a linear time with causes would mean reality is cut off from itself, which I have not found compelling evidence for.

Maxwell's demon doesn't work on its deepest level because discrete variables don't exist in natural systems, discrete variables are ideas natural systems (us) have about ourSelf yet these individual ideas are not the whole truth. Even in a tamed chaos box like a computer, still the system is beyond the full accounting of the design and designers.

That old adage about correlation ≠ causation is true, but without context of the role of observers this statement loses meaning.

If a correlation drives someone to do an action, has correlation not 'caused' an action?

The truth contains our illusions, and illusions have historically been powerful causes of 'truths' in a socio-technical setting at least, so bringing perspective into science and studies of causality seems our only hope to actually arrive at useful practices and methods. 

Now of course, causality helps us mitigate problems and knowledge is power - finding causal links can also let us skip over extra processes to get at the root of effects. So it is essential to try and identify causality.

However I can't help but have a trickster twinkle in my heart about how our observations cannot be separated from our entire perspective.

We observers and researchers aren't neutral, we are coherent with the systems we study!

So the gentleman that thinks smiling is silly because the world sucks, will his smiling ever be as strong as someone who thinks the world is wonderful? His life and his studies will likely reflect his opinions, and so the only way to really 'control' for the full set of variables is to understand the perspective of oneself. Until this happens at scale, all studies will risk being reflections of local truth, rather than the full substrate of truth which contains all contradictions  - waves on the ocean, rather than the ocean itself with its waves.

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AIHM Annual Advances In Biofield Medicine Pre-Conference

Toward Studying Miracles

Toward Studying Miracles

Was honored to get a scholarship to attend the AIHM Annual Advances in Biofield Medicine Pre-Conference event. Featured amazing speakers and great insight. Big takeaway was that we all need to get at least 15 minutes a day of bare feet to ground contact. Seriously. Grounding is essential for health.

the heart is a field

the heart is a field

James Oschman showed some great explainers and proposed a simple explanation of the heart that I have found much more accurate than the old way: “Maybe the heart is a field that extends throughout the universe.”

I became emotional in the closing session when Larry Dossey recounted a story of telling a terminal patient of his to, “get comfortable with living forever.” Dossey opened his heart bare to the reality of death and the immutability of the energy of which we are made. This truth-telling brought about great benefit for the patient he ‘leveled with.’ Dossey stated, and I agree, that the belief that our life ends when our brain stops firing has caused much pain. A return to having never left is needed.

Rosalyn Bruyere spoke elegantly and pointedly about the power of our healing hands and the oddness of living in air-conditioned boxes and insulated rubber shoes. She was a breath of fresh energy and got us standing up and playing with our energy, which is always appreciated!

All of the speakers were wonderful. For me it was extra great to hear and see Shamini Jain there, as I have gotten to meet her a few times and she is amazing! See her talk on the reality of the Placebo Effect and check out the Consciousness and Healing Initiative which she co-founded.

Overall this community is brave and creative enough to ask after deep questions as to what healing really is and what our bodies actually are. This is a field to watch ;)

Interestingly, much of what was said I have heard in some form from buddhist texts, such as the dharma blossom sutra. One passage breaks the mind well: The reality mark of all realities is that they are both empty and existent, and neither empty nor existent.

From my perspective, quantum physics has been a de-materializing of the scientific model of reality into informatics and computation (probability, pattern, and counting) which has let it get close to a shared mind interoperation as the buddhist texts have done (no edges to thought, consider where the reflection in a mirror exists). Now still though we need the component of the heart and meaning to make sense of this, and the courage to see ourSelf again and again.

I brought my Magic Leap One with me and showed off a quick demo I made called HoloHealing which had hand tracked ‘holograms’ and a sound wand, along with letting people use the Create app. Overall response was very good, practitioners, even the energy healer Rosalyn Bruyere who spoke really seemed to enjoy the Magic Leap One. One female practitioner even remarked after doing some painting in ML1 that she ‘didn’t get sick like in the other headsets.’ This gives me more confidence that the folks at Magic Leap are making healthy technology, as VR has a notorious and not well understood gender divide, and the fact that Magic Leap was working for the small sample of women whom used the headset I brought was great news for getting this technology beyond just games and toys and into the healing arts.

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I was there to learn about the cutting edge of the biofield, but also to show the Magic Leap One to this community. My current journey is in getting the skills I need to build visualization tools for biofield research and healing. There are sensors out there, like BioWell (who was at the conference showing their cool tech) and Heartmath’s +heart unit, which can be unified into a holistic view inside of Mixed Reality headsets.

HoloHealing will continue to evolve as a meditation trainer and ‘energy cleansing’ environment based upon Pranic Healing principles of using colored light to clean the subtle bodies.

More to come on this, including software ;)

Download full notes from pre-conference as PDF (~5MB)

Read More Papers on the Biofield from CHI.is with my Notes 

Holographic Healing - johnhanacek

Humanity the Super-Organism: Fostering a Realistic Idealism

Humanity the Super-Organism: Fostering a Realistic Idealism

Humanity is an adolescent super-organism. We still lack a broad understanding of ourselves as we are: nodes of a holistic system. Our current journey is one of personal discovery. We humans find ourselves in a systemic environment featuring immense inequality and pockets of persistent violence. Yet even this is only a fleeting moment, temporary equilibria.  If we are to move beyond this moment we must better understand our place within it. "The economy" is not some “other” outside of us, it is us; it is the emergent pattern of our activity. We are the Invisible Hand. Today the system prizes techno-trinkets and abstracted capital wealth; tomorrow it must prize humanity. 

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