Gerald Davis, D.D.S. '11, Meharry Medical College, remembers when the idea came to him. "I looked up one day and said, 'We need to expand our simulation center to include a holographic simulation center.'" His investigation led him to Microsoft's HoloLens.
"This is going to be beautiful," he said.
Dr. Davis is bullish on new technology in dentistry. According to the company website, "Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to interact with high definition holograms in your world." Dr. Davis said Meharry has been approved as a developer for the platform—what he calls augmented reality. "We've started assembling a team…[in] different specialties, also collaborating with the School of Medicine," he said. He has also reached out to other universities and digital thinkers to join the effort.
Meharry Medical College is one of the 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities support by your gifts to the Black College Fund.
| A simulation of how School of Dentistry students might see a
hologram of a tooth as part of dental education using Microsoft
"From a learning standpoint," Dr. Davis said, "students are able to see and compare." Think comparative anatomy, Davis said. "You can now [juxtapose] an upper canine tooth [and] a lower canine tooth and be able to identify the differences"— important information for national boards, he said, and much better than looking at different photographic perspectives. "Spin it around…based on voice command or hand gestures, interact with this three-dimensional environment sitting right here in front of you," he said. "You now can actually have an interactive experience."
Chairside in today's clinic, Dr. Davis said, computers can give multiple dental views, but HoloLens will change the approach. "Rather than having an assistant click on a computer off in the distance and say 'Oh, no—spin it this way, no! Go back, zoom in here,' you would be able with your own hand gestures to manipulate the image." The dentist has the ability to manipulate the image and keep his hands sterile, he said. "You can plan for implant placement, surgical approaches, restorative cases."
Davis's HoloLens project has caught the imagination of others across the country. Last November, he delivered a "TED"-style talk at the 2016 ADEA Deans' Conference in San Francisco. Dental school deans from across the U.S. and Canada heard about the use of the new visioning technology in dental applications. The opportunity put Meharry in the spotlight, he said. "It set Meharry apart, and [demonstrated] how we're progressing…unlike any other dental school in the country."
Dr. Davis said he wants his students to see beyond patient care into innovation. "My fear is that we're so focused on the immediate, acute issues of [patient care] that we don't actually plan for the chronic issue which is, 'How do you actually solve the condition further out?'"
As far as his students are concerned, there's a special characteristic he looks for. "I'm looking for a person who's innovative, creative, humble, approachable and kind—and willing. If you have those elements, I can work with you."
Meharry Medical College Alunmi Magazine Winter/Spring 2017
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