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Virtual Collaboration in the Age of #COVID19

Alice Bonasio
Mar 25 · 4 min read

The new collaborative feature shows how XR can help keep things going in the age of coronavirus.

Vancouver-based start-up Precision OS just introduced a new multiplayer feature for VR surgical training platform. This means that surgeons and nurses can work together in the same operating room even if they are physically thousands of miles apart.

The functionality allows up to five avatars at a time, with the collaborative feature bringing multiple users into a single virtual Operating Room (OR).

“Multiplayer now permits simultaneous access to the same virtual OR by many users. Each user receives an avatar along with their colleagues while performing surgery,” explained Dr. Danny Goel, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and Chief Executive Officer of Precision OS.

The lack of access to high-quality surgical education is also affecting medical device companies. In an era of rapidly advancing technologies and procedures, training is often a rate-limiting factor. Current training approaches vary in effectiveness and are not helping to address cost, and, most importantly, surgical mastery. It is a well-established fact that by reducing the cognitive load on the brain, training powered by immersive technology allows for better and more efficient training.

Even before the coronavirus, traditional training was simply not up to the challenge of educating today’s surgeons, especially not in the numbers needed to cope with demand. This situation, needless to say, has now become greatly exacerbated by the circumstances brought on with the COVID-19 outbreak. Surgery residents are getting less hands-on experience than ever, and it’s affecting their confidence and autonomy. A significant percentage didn’t feel ready to independently perform core procedures upon residency completion, and over 90% opt for an additional fellowship year. In an effort to address this, The American Board of Surgery (ABS) recommended: “rather than increasing the number of cases, we should be increasing the quality of teaching both clinical and procedural skills.” Immersive technology proved a crucial game-changer.

Precision OS is backed by the AO Foundation and is currently the only scientifically validated, peer-reviewed and published immersive virtual reality product on the market. It was founded by a team of clinical orthopedic surgeons and game developers to create the most relevant and applicable medical-grade simulation experience.

The new enhanced collaboration feature builds on the notion of double-loop learning, an educational concept grounded in search, exploration, and decision-making with the “why” in mind. Unlike single-loop learning methods like lectures or videos via tablet, the Precision OS module is interactive and encourages the user to delve deeper into an ultra-realistic simulation while allowing for failure in a constructive learning cycle.

“Through technology, we’re now able to assemble multidisciplinary teams for training without anyone having to travel,” Goel adds. Recently, Precision OS trained more than 300 medical device sales representatives using virtual reality in just 30 minutes. With multiplayer, Dr. Goel said he envisions surgeons remotely collaborating with other surgeons, trainees, and key OR personnel. including device reps.

The enhancement grants multiple users in different locations simultaneous access to the same learning module. The platform runs with the Oculus Quest headset, making it a portable and cost-effective option that could theoretically be used anywhere in the world.

“Multiplayer is literally and figuratively adding another dimension to our proficiency focused training platform. Enabling this type of collaboration and knowledge-share typically found in a clinical setting is of great significance,” concludes Goel.

As the “new normal” imposed by the coronavirus pandemic settles in for the long-term, it’s crucial that we continue to explore and implement these XR collaborative tools, especially where it comes to training essential healthcare workers in the age of remote working and social distancing.

This article was originally published on VRScout

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Alice Bonasio is a XR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.

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Alice Bonasio

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Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

Tech Trends

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