Augmented Reality Aims to Save Chairtime and Improve Care

Dentistry Today


Augmented reality isn’t just for gamers anymore. A cross-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Western Australia (UWA) is developing software that will enable dentists wearing augmented reality glasses to use hand gestures to access information that then will be displayed in their peripheral vision. 

“A big problem at the moment is the amount of interruptions dentists face when performing procedures, with an estimated 20% of their day carrying out nonclinical tasks and a significant amount of time away from patients during a procedure to review critical information,” said lead developer Marcus Pham, an electrical engineering and computer science student.

“The technology we are developing will change this by providing dentists with all the information they need without them needing to interrupt a procedure, so they can focus entirely on the patient,” Pham said. “This means the time taken to carry out procedures will be drastically reduced, and the quality of dental work will also improve.”

Aside from providing these patient benefits, the technology also is designed to decrease costs in dentistry and help train dental school students. For example, it could provide students with accurate and fast feedback as they learn intricate manual tasks such as tooth preparation, instead of students seeking feedback from a teacher’s interpretation of their work. 

The researchers have been selected as one of 10 teams in Australia to be included in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization ON Accelerate3 program, a 12-week collaboration that connects experienced and aspiring researchers to develop business models, find funding, and improve marketing before commercialization.

The team also includes Paul Ichim, DMD, of UWA Dentistry, Thomas Braunl, PhD, of UWA Engineering, and Rob Shannon, project manager of the UWA Innovation Quarter. After developing and testing the technology with students at UWA Dentistry, the researchers hope it will be available for commercialization as early as next year.

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