Search
Follow me:
Search
Follow me:

Virtual reality has been rapidly developing in recent years. What does this mean for bioethics? Join Darshan Kulkarni as he talks about recent developments in the field of virtual reality, and how these new technologies raise important bioethical questions. Plus, we’ll discuss some of the applications virtual and augmented reality have in the life sciences.

Narrator: This is the DarshanTalks Podcast. Regulatory guy, irregular podcast, with host Darshan Kulkarni. You can find the show on Twitter @darshantalks or the show's website at darshantalks.com.

Darshan: So, I recently got my hands on the Oculus Quest. It was really difficult to get your hands on for several months and was really disappointing because as soon as I got it, I found out that they're looking at bringing in Oculus Quest 2 onto the market already. Having said all that. It's interesting to hear people talk and I've experienced virtual reality without wires. I'm really excited about the future. One of the key things ... I happened to be a bit of a traveler and one of the key things that you always notice is that, while photographs are great, they never quite communicate scale and they never quite let you engage with the actual subject of your photograph. One of the key components and key problems associated with that is that you have what's called the windowpane effect, which is you always feel like you're looking at something from inside a windowpane.

Darshan: So, it's always at an arm's length, if not further. VR seems to fix that problem. VR being virtual reality, there's also something called augmented reality, which is AR. And the idea is that if you're using VRAR you might be able to engage ... If it's AR you might be able to engage with some computer aided systems that lets you engage with technology in the real world. So for example, let's say you're a surgeon and you're about to start cutting into someone's blood vessels, the AR system, using something like a artificial intelligence and start naming which vein is which one, helping you decide which vein or artery to cut, so that you can actually get to the organs you need to. In the pharma industry obviously there are medical device advantages, for sure, but there are some also drug advantages. For example, you could use AR/VR for molecule modeling.

Darshan: You could use that for a heightened version of informed consent. And if you are involved in remote working, which is what a lot of companies are doing right now in the context of COVID, one of the big problems with remote working is that you don't get to engage with individuals like you. And therefore there's actually being a ... You're starting to see a taper in the improvements that people saw with remote working. AR and VR gives you some of those advantages back, because you get to engage with people right next to you. So, the question is what are the bioethical challenges associated with ARVR? So, one of the key components is that AR and VR the most common one, the most popular one right now is Oculus Quest. Oculus Quest is owned by Facebook, which has seen it more than its share of privacy issues pop up.

Darshan: So, let's analyze virtual reality and augmented reality using traditional bioethical principles. The first one being respect for persons. And again, in the context of transparency, you've got to make sure that people know that their information is being collected. They have a clear understanding of what data is being collected. Why is it being collected? And what are the implications of that? This is actually similar to what GDPR and CCPA also require. So, that makes it easier. The question is, are companies going to follow suit, or is it just a checkbox system that you sort of just click through because, no one's ever going to read them. There is also the idea of non-maleficence and beneficence, which is in the context of innovation. You're starting to be at the cutting edge and you're starting to develop cutting edge technology. That's going to benefit a lot of people.

Darshan: This provides the opportunity for true patient centricity because you get to engage with patients in a remote virtual environment, meeting people where they are, not where you want them to be. That could aid not only in clinical research, but also in patient engagement itself. So, the big question becomes what happens when you start connecting some of these innovation components, things like telehealth or artificial intelligence, where do you keep the data? Are there any practice of medicine issues? Each of them start popping up and love to discuss any one of those with individuals on Twitter. If you actually want to get into it, you can find me on Twitter at Darshan Talks. Then there's the issue of justice. And this is one of the key components that's problematic. Right now it's a $500 system. Not everyone has access to VR. Then again, there's also the fact that when you wear the VR system, your eyes start hurting, but that's been my experience at least after about half hour to an hour, your eyes start hurting.

Narrator: This is the DarshanTalks Podcast. Regulatory guy, irregular podcast, with host Darshan Kulkarni. You can find the show on Twitter @darshantalks or the show's website at darshantalks.com.

Darshan: So, I recently got my hands on the Oculus Quest. It was really difficult to get your hands on for several months and was really disappointing because as soon as I got it, I found out that they're looking at bringing in Oculus Quest 2 onto the market already. Having said all that. It's interesting to hear people talk and I've experienced virtual reality without wires. I'm really excited about the future. One of the key things ... I happened to be a bit of a traveler and one of the key things that you always notice is that, while photographs are great, they never quite communicate scale and they never quite let you engage with the actual subject of your photograph. One of the key components and key problems associated with that is that you have what's called the windowpane effect, which is you always feel like you're looking at something from inside a windowpane.

Darshan: So, it's always at an arm's length, if not further. VR seems to fix that problem. VR being virtual reality, there's also something called augmented reality, which is AR. And the idea is that if you're using VRAR you might be able to engage ... If it's AR you might be able to engage with some computer aided systems that lets you engage with technology in the real world. So for example, let's say you're a surgeon and you're about to start cutting into someone's blood vessels, the AR system, using something like a artificial intelligence and start naming which vein is which one, helping you decide which vein or artery to cut, so that you can actually get to the organs you need to. In the pharma industry obviously there are medical device advantages, for sure, but there are some also drug advantages. For example, you could use AR/VR for molecule modeling.

Darshan: You could use that for a heightened version of informed consent. And if you are involved in remote working, which is what a lot of companies are doing right now in the context of COVID, one of the big problems with remote working is that you don't get to engage with individuals like you. And therefore there's actually being a ... You're starting to see a taper in the improvements that people saw with remote working. AR and VR gives you some of those advantages back, because you get to engage with people right next to you. So, the question is what are the bioethical challenges associated with ARVR? So, one of the key components is that AR and VR the most common one, the most popular one right now is Oculus Quest. Oculus Quest is owned by Facebook, which has seen it more than its share of privacy issues pop up.

Darshan: So, let's analyze virtual reality and augmented reality using traditional bioethical principles. The first one being respect for persons. And again, in the context of transparency, you've got to make sure that people know that their information is being collected. They have a clear understanding of what data is being collected. Why is it being collected? And what are the implications of that? This is actually similar to what GDPR and CCPA also require. So, that makes it easier. The question is, are companies going to follow suit, or is it just a checkbox system that you sort of just click through because, no one's ever going to read them. There is also the idea of non-maleficence and beneficence, which is in the context of innovation. You're starting to be at the cutting edge and you're starting to develop cutting edge technology. That's going to benefit a lot of people.

Darshan: This provides the opportunity for true patient centricity because you get to engage with patients in a remote virtual environment, meeting people where they are, not where you want them to be. That could aid not only in clinical research, but also in patient engagement itself. So, the big question becomes what happens when you start connecting some of these innovation components, things like telehealth or artificial intelligence, where do you keep the data? Are there any practice of medicine issues? Each of them start popping up and love to discuss any one of those with individuals on Twitter. If you actually want to get into it, you can find me on Twitter at Darshan Talks. Then there's the issue of justice. And this is one of the key components that's problematic. Right now it's a $500 system. Not everyone has access to VR. Then again, there's also the fact that when you wear the VR system, your eyes start hurting, but that's been my experience at least after about half hour to an hour, your eyes start hurting.

The Oculus Quest is notorious for being heavy in the front, which again, cause your neck to hurt. So, if you're not young, if you are not fit, you're going to start having problems. Your glasses themselves may not fit as well. So you start excluding people the moment you start using AR and VR on a more consistent basis, that's going to cause its own problems. The next question to start talking about is when you're talking about bioethical analysis, should we start looking at value to society, over value to the person themselves? To me that actually starts ... My gut reaction is you don't want to do that, because that's how you start going down the slippery slope.

Darshan: However, I can see people going augmented reality could change how patients access information and them losing. I've seen people, several articles in magazines and the like talking about how COVID was a missed opportunity, because the data collected could have been extremely useful. However, they miss the lessons from the past, where for the sake of the future, the rights of the present were trampled. So, I'm concerned about those opportunities and the bioethical implications of that. If you think I missed some issues in the context of AR or VR, feel free to reach out to me at Darshan Talks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Narrator: This is the DarshanTalks Podcast. Regulatory guy, irregular podcast, with host Darshan Kulkarni. You can find the show on Twitter @darshantalks or the show's website at darshantalks.com.

The Oculus Quest is notorious for being heavy in the front, which again, cause your neck to hurt. So, if you're not young, if you are not fit, you're going to start having problems. Your glasses themselves may not fit as well. So you start excluding people the moment you start using AR and VR on a more consistent basis, that's going to cause its own problems. The next question to start talking about is when you're talking about bioethical analysis, should we start looking at value to society, over value to the person themselves? To me that actually starts ... My gut reaction is you don't want to do that, because that's how you start going down the slippery slope.

Darshan: However, I can see people going augmented reality could change how patients access information and them losing. I've seen people, several articles in magazines and the like talking about how COVID was a missed opportunity, because the data collected could have been extremely useful. However, they miss the lessons from the past, where for the sake of the future, the rights of the present were trampled. So, I'm concerned about those opportunities and the bioethical implications of that. If you think I missed some issues in the context of AR or VR, feel free to reach out to me at Darshan Talks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Narrator: This is the DarshanTalks Podcast. Regulatory guy, irregular podcast, with host Darshan Kulkarni. You can find the show on Twitter @darshantalks or the show's website at darshantalks.com.

More from this show

Newsletter

Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know the news.