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VT students shape future of healthcare technology with AppJam

Virginia Tech programs assist earthquake recovery in Nepal (Image 1)
Virginia Tech programs assist earthquake recovery in Nepal (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10)-- Students from Virginia Tech are putting the final touches on their health care design ideas ahead of the AppJam Competition. Each team is creating a design concept for Microsoft's HoloLens device that would improve community health and wellness.

Five teams will be presenting in the competition on Saturday, each using Microsoft's HoloLens 3D Programming to further develop their concepts. Being able to use program itself is what led to some students to enter the competition to begin with. It allows users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms around them, mixing the digital and natural world.

This weekend's symposium will feature presentations from all of the final groups, as well as speakers from Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic and other leading health and technology companies.

"I'm excited to see the research that's presented there," says Siddarth Ponnala, a graduate student at Virginia Tech. "There will be experts from all over the state of Virginia, different medical expertise and technology expertise. I'm interested in talking to them and seeing what they think about our idea."

Some of the student ideas that will be featured include an application that will let medical students and health professionals use the simulated holograms to practice surgeries, choosing one from a library of options and testing their skills. Another serves as a microscope, capturing the real scene through a camera and enhancing it so doctors and nurses can better see what they're working on.

Ponnala's group is working on an app specifically for nurses, called NurseLense. It would reduce the workload on nurses by providing quick and easy access to the most important patient information they're working on, without having to carry around and sort through stacks of patient files.

"We found that nurses have a very hard job," explains Vineeth Koodali-Edam, a graduate student who is also working on NurseLens. "They have to walk around a lot, carrying a lot of files and documents, administer medication and take care of new patients. They have a lot of things going on and have a hard time remembering things."

That's why the group's app would rank cases based on severity-- putting all of the cases at the touch of the nurses' fingertips. It would allow them to better interact with patients and spend more time with each one. It would also allow the nurses to make an optimized visitation rout, assisting patients based on priority of needs.

Avanade, a sponsor for the competition, says they're excited to be involved. In a statement the organization says, "This competition challenges students from multiple disciplines to be innovative in solving real-world nears for the healthcare field through the use of HoloLens-- an Augumented Reality Device from Microsoft. Competitions like AppJams are important not only as exposure to leading edge engineering, but also for driving tomorrow's leaders to apply and expand their creative, intellectual and technical knowledge."

The AppJam Competition will be on Saturday at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. For more information and to register for the event, click here.