is another important area for development. These models would provide customers with the opportunity to see and experience the aircraft they are purchasing before it is actually built.

MEDICINE AND HEALTH CARE

Rationale

The knowledge base of medicine has exploded in the past 30 years, and it continues to expand at a staggering rate. As a result, medical practitioners have difficulty in keeping pace with changes in practice, and medical students and residents have difficulty in assimilating the information presented in their medical educations.

As in other information-intensive disciplines, computer and communications technologies have important roles to play in reducing the cognitive demands on medical practitioners and students by helping to manage, filter, and process multiple sources of information. The following subset of medical knowledge and skill is well-suited to management and handling by VE, augmented reality, and teleoperator systems:

  • Anatomical relations of various organs and systems. Knowing that a particular organ is located underneath another organ is an essential part of anatomical knowledge. The ability to "walk through" the body and to see anatomy in its natural state with all of the interrelations of various organs and systems would greatly facilitate the acquisition of certain important pieces of anatomical knowledge.

  • Development of manipulative skills involving precise motor control and hand-eye coordination. Surgical trainers can be particularly useful in acquiring needed skills.

  • Image interpretation. Although various imaging devices are common in medicine, their effective use depends on the skill of the viewer to identify often small differences between normal and abnormal images.

  • Telemedicine through teleoperation. Medical expertise is often unavailable in remote areas. Telemedicine—whether through consultation or through remote manipulators that enable teleoperation—offers some potential to place medical expertise in locations that might not otherwise have access to such expertise. Teleoperation also enables one to effectively transform the sensorimotor system of the physician (diagnostician or surgeon) to better match the task.

Specific Medical Applications

The following discussion focuses on six applications of VE technology to medicine: medical education, accreditation, surgical planning,



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