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Microsoft sends HoloLens 2 into a care home... Nope, not a headline gag about retiring the tech. They actually did this

Hands-free kit a 'game changer' for doctors assessing residents during pandemic

Microsoft has bragged about how its HoloLens 2 is being used by doctors to assess care home residents in a COVID-safe way.

One might wonder if the elderly haven't suffered enough during the pandemic without throwing Microsoft's Augmented Reality technology into the mix. However, with rules and guidance making in-person appointments a little tricky, having a staffer don the goggles while a doctor looks on remotely is not a terrible option.

Microsoft unveiled the follow-up to its clunkier predecessor in 2019. At the time there was much rejoicing concerning 3D models and collaboration. Recent events have made that remote collaboration pitch seem somewhat prescient.

That said, Granny won't be popping one on her head any time soon. This is all about the caregivers.

The units – in use since October 2020 at Kendal Care Home in Cumbria, England – have replaced tablets and smartphones as ways for GPs to communicate with patients. The establishment describes itself as "a purpose-built luxury Care Home." Handy, since HoloLens 2 headsets could hardly be described as inexpensive.

Since this is Microsoft we're talking about, Teams and Dynamics 365 play a part. A nurse or carer pops on the headset and, thanks to the Dynamics 365 Remote Assist app, a video call can be set up between GP and care home, with the remote doctor asking the resident questions, offering a diagnosis and advising the nurse on treatment. Students and other clinicians can also follow the stream.

While we're not entirely sure about a resident staring at a goggled nurse while the GP's voice comes out of the ether, using the HoloLens 2 as a hands-free camera is an improvement over a nurse having to juggle a smartphone or tablet as well as whatever tools are needed for treatment, particularly if (in more normal times) a resident was too infirm for an in-person appointment.

Then again, there are plenty of alternative ways of achieving the same thing – the HoloLens 2 with its AR smarts is perhaps a little overkill if, as Microsoft put it, one issue was "video images weren't as clear" when staff wielded camera-equipped devices themselves.

Could something like a HoloLens 2 truly be a substitute for an in-person appointment with a Doctor? During these interesting times, perhaps. Kendal Care Home described the HoloLens as a "game changer", perhaps indicating just how difficult things became for staff during 2020. ®

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