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I may be a Gen Xer, but I can still remember house calls from my childhood physician.
I remember his satchel and the needles inside.
But I don’t remember seeing a single piece of computer technology on his person or in his office when I’d visit.
Yet since then, information technology has transformed every aspect in health care in more ways than we can easily count.
And it’s still progressing.
Virtual and augmented reality are an irresistibly disruptive trend that’s only just in its infancy.
And this trend is about to strike a seemingly immovable $3 trillion-per-year object: health care.
I say “seemingly” because health care has already been utterly transformed over the past few decades.
Better patient care, better outcomes, cheaper training and more precise interventions… even long-distance medicine… all of these will be touched by the emerging virtual and augmented realities.
VR and AR have been with us conceptually for a long time. They’ve been the subject of more than one sci-fi flick, usually dystopian, and we’ve had some crude devices around for decades.
But it never really caught on outside niche applications or entertainment venues.
We just didn’t have enough power to create a truly useful immersive experience. We lacked the processing. We didn’t have the rendering. The high-resolution displays weren’t as high-resolution.
The sensors that can tell how we are oriented seamlessly and transparently adjust the scene when we change that orientation.
And even if we had all these things, we would still need a fast interface so that the virtual world we experienced could be translated from electrons in a computer to photons in a display for us to see.
Plus, even with all that poor performance, the early devices were much too big and heavy.
So VR and AR never really caught on — until now.
2016 proved a breakout year for VR technology.
The key is power and performance in a light, compact package.
Our cellphones went from dumb, bulky bricks to smart, svelte devices that fit in our pockets. The early smartphones didn’t really catch on, and then when the tech got good enough, someone figured out how to put it to use.
Apple invented a killer design, and billions upon billions in sales came in its wake for this tech giant and its competitors.
This doesn’t just apply to a device you carry in your pocket.
If you are going to wear a device on your head, you want it to be as light and comfortable as possible.
Thanks to relentless competition in semiconductor fabrication, we’ve shrunk circuits to ever smaller sizes…
We’ve improved battery energy density and efficiency…
We’ve made thinner and lighter displays…
And now, we are approaching the same critical growth stage with our virtual and augmented reality devices as we did with smartphones a decade ago. In fact, we are rapidly approaching escape velocity for this market.
That means VR technology is now finally becoming ready for everything from consumer devices to the mammoth health care market… VR/AR will become common place in medical schools, doctors’ offices and hospitals.
This will prove to be a very lucrative business, indeed. Although only a few million VR headsets will be sold this year, VR and AR could be markets worth over $150 billion per year by the turn of the decade.
Recent estimates forecast 25% of that will be from VR in health care by 2025.
The health care industry is about to change – for the better – thanks to VR. And it’s going to make a lot of investors very rich along the way.
To a bright future,
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