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One of the problems with getting people to stop smoking is that even if they “know” it is bad for them in some intellectual sense, they can’t really imagine how bad it really is.
The problem is the gulf between intellectual or “cognitive” knowledge and human feeling.Look at a slug or a cockroach and we feel disgust and revulsion. Look at a raw chicken and we wonder what it’ll taste like when cooked. We don’t think about the fact that currently, in its uncooked state, it is laden with bacteria. The same is true of the effect of smoking on the lungs, the heart and the arteries.
But that is all about to change thanks to new software being developed for augmented reality at Birmingham City University.
The idea is to create an augmented reality view of what is going on inside the patient and showing it to them as means of encouraging them to change their lifestyles in general and to quit smoking in particular. The software creates 3D replicas of the patient’s internal organs that are far clearer and sharper than anything that an X-ray, MRI or Ultrasound scan could provide. The replica can also be rotated and shown from all sides to show the patient the full impact of their lifestyle choices as well as where they are headed.
Dr Ian Williams, heading the team, explained: “If you select the lungs, it allows you to interact with the lungs by rotating or enlarging them as if they were in front of you as an actual object. If the patient was a smoker you could put a texture to reflect the effects of smoking.”
Each patient gets a customized view relevant to them, their condition and their lifestyle. For example, “if the patient was a smoker,” Dr. Williams explained, “you could put a texture to reflect the effects of smoking.”
Another application, Dr Williams is considering, is showing patients what their forthcoming medical or surgical procedure will entail. This could both re-assure the patient and encourage them to cooperate with post operative care.