Focus on Home Assessment

How Augmented Reality Could Impact Home Assessments

augmented reality

NITRUM PHOTO: COURTESY SUNRISE MEDICAL

When Sunrise Medical launched the Nitrum ultralightweight wheelchair in late 2020 (see page 26), the manufacturer also introduced a pair of digital tools on its Web site (sunrisemedical.com) to help seating and wheeled mobility clinicians, suppliers and consumers to more accurately visualize the Nitrum they’d configured.

The first tool, called the 3D Visualizer, enables Web site visitors to choose various Nitrum options — from frame to backrest, casters, sideguards, rear wheels, wheel locks and frame accessories — and immediately see what these choices look like and how they affect each other. While consumers might be most interested in the aesthetic results of frame colors and accents, clinicians and suppliers can instantly see the differences that come from changing, for instance, frame inset and frame angles.

The second tool is an Augmented Reality feature that, with the scan of a QR code via a smartphone, places an image of a Nitrum into a real environment, such as a hallway of a home.

If you’ve ever used an app such as Houzz or IKEA Place to see how a new sofa or table would look in your living room or dining room, you get the idea.

Augmented Reality Meets the Seating & Wheeled Mobility Home Assessment

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth and remote services have become essential to keeping seating and wheelchair evaluations moving, even when it isn’t possible for all members of the evaluation team to meet in person.

Right away, the home assessment seemed to be a part of the evaluation process that could easily be conducted remotely. By using a tape measure to check doorway widths and to check bathroom square footage, and by using a smartphone to take photos and shoot short videos of hallways and kitchens, clients, family members and caregivers can send clinicians and suppliers vital environmental information without anyone leaving the office or their home.

Now to that equation, add Augmented Reality, which combines real-world environments with computer-generated images or other data.

If you have ever been told that a hotel room or a bedroom is accessible, only to find out upon arrival that the doorway leading into the bathroom or the space around the bed is far narrower than claimed, you’ve found a potential application for Augmented Reality. Photographs can lack scale or measurements; measurements can lack context. But combine a photo of a bathroom with a smartphone app that measures the bathroom, and you have real-world information that’s much more reliable.

Augmented Reality’s Future: Upgraded Holographic Technology Is Coming

Architects, contractors, interior designers and realtors are already using Augmented Reality apps to generate measurements for rooms and objects via smartphone camera. Apps currently available include ARPlan 3D, CamToPlan, AirMeasure, and Augmented Reality Tape Measure.

Even when the current public health emergency has passed, remote-service home assessments could accurately collect information that could lead to better seating and wheeled mobility outcomes. For time-strapped suppliers, especially those serving clients in rural areas, Augmented Reality assessments could result in completing more assessments in less time. And for clients and families, Augmented Reality provides the ability to collect measurements at their convenience while skipping the in-person supplier visits.

Meanwhile, the future of Augmented Reality systems includes upgraded holographic technology that could provide enhanced three-dimensional views.

In January, the Phys.org digital publication quoted Jonghyun Kim, a Senior Research Scientist at tech company NVIDIA and a Visiting Researcher at Stanford University: “Augmented and virtual reality systems are poised to have a transformative impact on our society by providing a seamless interface between a user and the digital world. Holographic displays could overcome some of the biggest remaining challenges for these systems by improving the user experience and enabling more compact devices.”

Sounds great. Bring it home!

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

Mobility Management Podcast