Windows 10 and Microsoft HoloLens, implications for health and medicine

imageSo yesterday was a big day here at Microsoft. Like many of you, I was glued to my computer screen while our business and product leaders updated the world on Windows 10, Windows Phone, Xbox, and more. We learned that Cortana will be taking up residence on our desktops and tablets in addition to our phone. There were some great demos showing how Cortana will be able to learn even more about us in order to serve us better. She will be deeply integrated into our productivity solutions and, of course, search. At your beckon call, “Hey, Cortana”, she will make appointments, set reminders, and even write your email and send it. More and more, she will truly be your personal assistant at work and at home. For you clinicians out there, I can very well envision a day when she might become your personal medical assistant too.

imageI’m not going to belabor all the cool new features and functions of Windows 10. There are plenty of pundits contributing to that conversation. But I would like to offer a few thoughts on one of yesterday’s more fascinating announcements—Microsoft HoloLens.

Much like Surface before it was publically announced, news of HoloLens has been a closely guarded secret at Microsoft except for those working very directly on the project. By the way, that “project” has been incubating for nearly a decade. Sure, some of us had heard about some kind of new goggle-like device, but most of us were thinking more along the lines of virtual reality or heads-up display rather than holograms.

imagePlease take a look at the web site and videos that were released yesterday following our big press event. All I can say, is WOW! This is the kind of stuff that makes me fall in love with technology over and over again. This is the kind of breakthrough, much like our Kinect sensor (for both Xbox and Windows) that will find its way into health and medicine in ways that our product groups likely haven’t yet imagined. I know this because I’m already getting pinged from clinical colleagues, researchers, and partners around the world. Like me, their minds are moving at warp speed on all the possibilities. If you were ever excited about Google Glass in medicine, I believe this is Glass on steroids and then some. In fact, it’s an entirely new category of user experience.

imageHow might this technology transform medical education, simulations, patient engagement and education? How might it be used to design new hospitals, medical devices, procedures and replacement parts for the human body? How might it become embedded in telemedicine and remote monitoring applications? How might it enable entirely new ways of caring for our patients in the clinic, at the bedside and even virtually?

OK, I know you get it. Start making your lists. Having said that, I would urge all of you to give us a little time on this one. The HoloLens and the software and applications that will drive it are still works in progress. I can’t give you an exact timeframe on commercial availability. So, please be patient. It will happen. In the meantime, we will be working tirelessly here to identify the most opportune scenarios, partners and solutions that will help this exciting new technology find its way into health, medicine and education--likely in a trajectory quite similar to what we saw with Kinect a few years back.

One thing I know for sure. This is why I still love coming to work every day.

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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