Augmented Reality

A person holding their phone up to a text book and their screen is projecting 3D images from its AR function.


Augmented reality is defined in the Healthcare Simulation Dictionary as “a technology that overlays digital computer-generated information on objects or places in the real world for the purpose of enhancing the user experience.”  (Lioce et al., 2020, p. 9)

A person in a large room using the AR feature on their phone.


During clinical courses, students are typically oriented to a hospital and the units they will be assigned in a relatively short timeframe over a few hours. Often, exploration in the room or on the unit is based upon the hospital census and availability of rooms or equipment to review with students. If units, rooms, and equipment are available there is a short time frame for students to explore and learn more about the usability of or design of the resources. In an effort to improve orientation to clinical facilities for students, faculty determined 3D imaging could be used to capture the real-life set-up for specific clinical sites. Using 3D images within ThingLink an overlay of video tutorials, quizzes, images, or text could be included to allow students to virtually tour the facility as an additional support to be more acclimated to the clinical site, resources, and norms.


To implement this approach to augmented reality, it is very low cost and fairly low tech. For 360 degree still images a camera and tripod is adequate. For 360 imaging we have used Ricoh Theta and multiple versions of the Insta360 offerings; favoring Insta360 because they have strong consumer 360 options and are easy to learn and create with. We also use any available selfie stick with the tabletop tripod legs because they are easy to hide in a 360 image and very portable. For editing, software such as Premiere Pro or Photoshop is used to convert 360 video to linear and/or for cleaning up images, unless the regular Insta360 app is used for quick export. Using Metaverse users can quickly build AR experiences where you can scan a QR code and interact with the AR elements using your phone if you are looking for mobile friendly use. We found ThingLink to be easy for faculty to use as the method of provIding the content overlay for engagement online; it also nicely embeds in learning management systems or webpages. In collaboration with your clinical facility, outreach to the appropriate administrators for approval for access for imaging is important with consideration to HIPAA for any still images taken. We coordinated with the media contact at the facility, set up an appointment to take images, and ensured the rooms we photographed excluded any patient specific information. We wanted to give examples in the rooms for equipment that might be available or used in patient care, i.e. IV pumps, suctioning, glucose monitoring equipment, new patient setup, therefore the rooms were pre-set for intended equipment/content to be included in the student learning AR experience.