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The Future is Screenless

Screenless technology uses augmented reality to superimpose interactable imageries on users’ surroundings. AR is redefining the future of experiences. This article brings forth applications of augmented reality in designing screenless interfaces. It also discusses the psychological impact of augmenting computer-generated visuals in the real world.

Applications of Augmented Reality in Screenless Technology

According to MarketsandMarkets research, the screenless display market is projected to reach $5.7 billion by 2020. In a near-future, augmented reality would be able to project imagery onto almost any surface and medium. However, there’s another aspect of screenless interfaces accompanied by audio and haptics.

Future is screenless infographic

AR Audio

Imagine you come across a billboard with a picture of diamond jewellery. You’re impressed and want to know more about the ad. Typically, you’ll pick your phone, type some search queries and then get to know the information about the product. What if you can skip the process and get the information instantly?

AR Audio gives audio responses according to the user’s visual cues. It fulfils the user’s need for information on demand immediately. The technology is advancing to an extent that the AR device can measure your gaze direction and locate the objects in your range of vision!

Sturfee’s Visual Positioning Service (VPS) is a remarkable attempt towards AR innovations.





Seamless Projection

The recent development in augmented reality eliminates the need for bulky headsets or special glasses to see an augmented view of the world. In fact, the screenless display market is projected to reach $5.7 Bn by 2020.

This is possible by seamlessly projecting the imagery in a shared physical space. That is, mapping the imagery on a street or a playground, where many people can simultaneously witness the virtual aspects of augmented reality. The ability to project visuals seamlessly on any surface is one of the biggest applications of augmented reality feasible today.

Humane Creatures

The next take on coupling augmented reality with artificial intelligence is the development of humane creatures or avatars. These human-like intelligent beings can act as a learning companion for children suffering from autism. Augmented reality can smartly interact with children, ask questions, encourage, offer suggestions, and can be a companion in their tough time.

In her book – The Art of Screen Time, Anya Kamenetz mentions Alex, a research project directed by Cassell’s PhD student Samantha Finkelstein. Alex is a gender-ambiguous 8-year-old intelligent augmented reality avatar. During an experiment in a classroom at a charter school in Pittsburgh, students along with Alex discuss their know-how about a picture of a dinosaur. Alex couldn’t catch everything that other students were saying and sometimes his responses are inappropriate. But, this illusion of conversation is a step forward towards the new developments in the AR arena.

Screenless Time?

‘Modifying reality’ is putting a question mark on the psychological impact of augmented reality. Augmented reality together with artificial intelligence is creating environments next to real. Are our mental-models ready to adapt? Or a sudden disruption is going to play with our sentiments? Unfortunately, there are no concrete answers to these questions. 

Today, kids (aged between 8 & 18) spend on average more than 7 hours every day looking at screens. However, the new AHA guideline recommends screen time to be at a maximum of two hours per day. In the not so distant future, kids will be growing up with AR accompanying them throughout their day. Whether they are learning about something new or shopping online, AR will have merged and formed a virtual tether with their daily routines. 

While screenless AR does pose several questions around its ethical benefits — with responsible use we can harness the best from this technology.

Augmented Reality Best Practices

  1. While using Augmented Reality in design, keep in mind the users’ real-world context. Do not distract or mislead them for social, political, or economic benefits.
  2. Do not play with emotions or drown user senses into meaningless things.
  3. Augmented Reality is data-rich. Ensure the safety of users’ data.

Concluding Remarks

Haptics, gesture control, Synaptics, and triggered imagery are adding intractability to the screenless technology. Today, video games and retail are harnessing augmented reality the most. The future awaits more applications of augmented reality to build screenless interfaces across different industries.

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MantraTalks Podcast with Parag Sharma: Delivering Digital-first Health Experiences for Patient Care in the New Normal

6 minutes read

The healthcare industry took the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic from the very beginning. It was, and still is, a humongous task for hospitals to deal with the rising number of COVID patients as well as handling the regular consults. 

To delve deeper into the state of healthcare in the COVID times, we interviewed Parag Sharma, CEO, Mantra Labs Pvt Ltd. Parag shares his insights on how technology can help in delivering digital-first health experiences for patient care in the New Normal.

Parag is a product enthusiast and tinkerer at heart and has been at the forefront of developing innovative products especially in the field of AI. He also holds over ten years of experience working in the services line and has been instrumental in launching several startups in the Internet & Mobile space. His rich domain expertise and innovative leadership have helped Mantra climb to the top 100 innovative InsurTechs in the World – selected by FinTech Global. 

Catch the interview:  

Connect with Parag- LinkedIn

COVID-19 and Its impact on Healthcare Organizations

Considering the COVID situation, according to you how has COVID-19 impacted the IT & service operations among healthcare organizations?

Parag:  Since the onset of COVID-19, the healthcare sector has been deeply impacted. Institutions are facing a serious crunch in manpower. IT support systems which were usually manned and managed by a large team of IT professionals are not available in the same strength. Resource allocation’ is one of the biggest concerns due to physical and mental exhaustion of the healthcare workforce. 

Hospitals are facing issues such as operational disruption due to staff quarantine, supply-chain delays and sudden decline in patient footfalls, difficulty in sustaining fixed costs, etc. People are not comfortable getting out of the safety confinements of their homes due to the rising risk of getting infected with the virus. Hospitals will have to reassess their future strategy and budgets in light of the uncertain economic situation.

Preparing for the Future

What can hospitals do to ensure the continuity of their customer-facing operations in the wake of a second Pandemic wave?

Parag: There are many things that hospitals can do to manage themselves in this hour of crisis. Being more digital than what they are would be one step forward for all of them. They can bring their IT systems to the cloud so that the person can access data and manage their work remotely. They can enable their patients to book appointments and enquire about services through apps and chatbots which won’t require them to call the reception or come to the hospital. These are some of the services which hospitals can provide to their customers with minimum physical contact. 

Related: Manipal Hospital’s move to a self-service healthcare mobile application

Hospitals can extend Telehealth services to their patients. Recently, telehealth has proved to be useful especially when there is asymmetry between the number of patients and healthcare providers. I think it will be very useful for healthcare institutions to deploy telehealth solutions to provide medical facilities to people who have so far been outside the benefits of healthcare.

New Expectations in Health Experiences

Is consumer behavior defined by the ‘new normal’ going to change the way we access healthcare from this point on?

Parag: Yes, people will expect a completely different way to access healthcare services from now on. Hospitals should gear-up and rise to this occasion. The pandemic has also provided a new opportunity to adopt a completely different approach in the way healthcare is delivered. They always felt that medical care cannot be provided remotely but now this is happening and people are appreciating remote healthcare services. Hospitals and healthcare institutions are convinced that telehealth and remote care will be more successful soon.

Technology in Healthcare can Bridge Operational Gaps

What are the operational challenges, as far as digital capabilities go, that hospitals are facing currently? And, what steps must they take to bridge these gaps?

Parag: Operational challenges are not just digital challenges. But a lot of these challenges can be addressed with technology. For example, Electronic Health Records which hospitals manage within the premises can be moved to the cloud so that the person can access these records on the cloud itself and need not come to the hospital. 

Related: Medical Image Management: DICOM Images Sharing Process

Secondly, if you deploy telehealth and telemedicine solutions, irrespective of where your patients are or doctors are, hospitals can deliver the required care to its patients. You can even extend your diagnostics services to your patients by giving them an application through which they can seamlessly book appointments for consults, diagnostics, or pathological services and resolve their queries, etc. Simply by giving a seamless interface either through bots or applications can go a long way in providing better health experiences to the customers.

Role of Chatbots in Superior Customer Experiences

According to you, what role does chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence have in the Healthcare CX landscape?

Parag: Chatbots are the simplest example of the implementation of AI-based technology in healthcare. There are a lot of things which bots can do simplistically. For example, if a patient wants to book an appointment with the doctors, instead of going through a complex web applications and interfaces, what if I can simply write “I want to book an appointment with the doctor Dr. XYZ at 4 pm” and the bot can figure out in case the time slot is available with that particular doctor, it will confirm the appointment followed by a payment process if the payment has to be made upfront. 

Apart from this, you can extend your bots to provide e-consultations where doctors can do remote consultations via audio and video features of a chatbot. So there is a huge scope for bots beyond answering routine queries by customers or booking appointments. It does not stop just there. You can extend chatbot functionalities to support functions such as admin, HR, finance, and business process efficiency so that they can provide better services to their customers.

Related: Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care

Chatbot Use Cases in Healthcare

Could you tell us some possible bot use cases for delivering better customer experiences to digital health users?

Parag: Apart from booking appointments and resolving customer queries, these bots can conduct remote consultations, internal processes, health symptom checker, out-patient video consultation, second opinion consultation, ordering medicines, psychological counseling & mental wellness, scenario-based risk advice, Heroism Recognition for employees, etc. Also, it can be further extended to help patients enquire about health insurance related queries, and all the interactions between insurance companies and hospitals can be provided to the patient. 

Related: Healthcare & Hospitals Use Cases | Digital Health

The Road Ahead

COVID-19 has forced hospitals to revise patient support strategy with limited operational staff that is bringing every day a new challenge. A way out is to heavily rely on digital innovation.

In India we have a disparity between the no. of healthcare providers and care seekers. Without technology, I don’t think there is any way healthcare institutions will be able to scale to a level where they can provide meaningful services to such a large number of people. Hospitals can invest in setting up an information exchange; making the process as seamless as possible; and removing all possible inefficiencies from the supply chain through technology.

Future growth for hospitals will come from digital technology because patients will opt more for digital platforms. And it is up to hospitals to catch up with the pace at which modern technology is developing. We, at Mantra Labs, have achieved several use cases including hospitals/diagnostic centers that are able to deliver superior health experiences.

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