Incredible augmented reality tool could prove a real life-saver

27 Jul 2016

Irish-based 3D4Medical is well on the way to releasing an immersive, augmented reality app that could bring medical training to a level previously thought impossible.

Project Esper is the name of 3D4Medical’s latest attempt to revolutionise medical training and, on first looks, the Blackrock company could be on to something.


An augmented reality app, Project Esper is still some six months from its beta release but the sneak preview the company has provided shows just how far this technology could take us in the future.

Gesture-controlled investigations into the human body – revealing the brain and the organs layer by layer, showing how they work or even the composition of various limbs – could make both doctor training and patient interaction something from a sci-fi movie.

Already armed with popular apps in the industry, 3D4Medical’s Project Esper is the “next logical step” for the company, according to Irene Walsh, head of design.

A lot done, more to do

The app will not be coming on stream until early 2017, but Walsh noted that “a lot of the donkey work” behind what seems a massive undertaking is already done, given that it is built on the company’s own 3D engine.

“We’re at the early stages of development, working on our gestural interface and also on a triage of the functions we’d like to release for our beta product,” she said, with the finished product set to be a ‘living’ mixed-reality model with selectable structures.

As yet, it is unclear what hardware will be required by users when interacting on Project Esper, with that side of things not as far along line as the software at the moment.

The preview of Project Esper comes on the back of a major expansion at 3D4Medical, with 70 jobs announced at the company in January. Over the 18-month recruitment drive, the company will more than triple its headcount, with software developers, 3D graphic artists and medical writers in demand.

Looking at Project Esper, it’s clear just what project they will be working on.

3D4Medical: New dawn for anatomy teaching

“Our excellent 3D graphics team are constantly refining the model accuracy and prepping for this hyper-realistic user experience,” said Walsh, adding that the final development of the product will “completely transform” how anatomy is taught.

In June, 3D4Medical won an Apple Design Award for its app Complete Anatomy, which, since launching late last year, has topped the App Store medical category charts in 82 countries.

Complete Anatomy is aimed at transforming medical learning across the globe, via 3D4Medical

Complete Anatomy is aimed at transforming medical learning across the globe. Image via 3D4Medical

Version 2.0 of the application was released in May 2016, adding brand new lecture content that allows users to access and explore guided lessons from a former Stanford University professor on a variety of anatomical topics using the 3D technology and tools included.

Ultimately, Walsh wants to create an “augmented atlas” for students to learn, interactively, everything there is to know about the human body. From a clinical setting, she also eyes making medicine “more relatable for patients”, with doctors explaining ailments and treatments “in more visual terms”.

Main anatomy image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic