Google Cardboard came onto the scene at Google IO 2014 as the first consumer VR Product ahead of Samsung’s Gear VR, a little headset many already know as a device made mostly of actual cardboard. Through the pairing with a Google Cardboard app on a smartphone, the mobile device can be placed inside of the headset’s front facing pocket, allowing the user to view 3D images in a virtual world through the integrated headset lenses. While Google Cardboard is mostly used by everyday individuals for any number of things from games to video, to simply looking at pictures or exploring virtual surroundings, a team of innovative doctor’s at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, FL used Google Cardboard to help save baby girl’s life.
Taking a pair of 2D image scans of 4-month old baby Teegan Lexcen’s heart that had been uploaded into a smartphone by his colleague, Pediatric Surgeon Redomond Burke was able to look at virtual 3D imagery of Teegan’s heart and figure out where he needed to make his first incision during surgery. Teegan was born with only half a heart and one lung, which led doctors in Minnesota where the Lexcen family is originally from to state there was nothing they could do. Speaking to CBS News Miami, Burke mentioned that Teegan’s family was told that Teegan was inoperable and that the team at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital “hates that word,” so, they decided to try something new. Enter cardboard.
This wouldn’t be the first time there have been reports of surgeons and hospital using technology created by Google to do their jobs more efficiently, as Google Glass has already been used in both operating rooms and other areas of various hospitals for things like helping with surgery to identifying patients. Google Glass though was an expensive tool to have on hand when compared to something like Google’s Cardboard VR headset which can now be picked up for around $20, and smartphones are something that most people already carry. Burke states that Cardboard allowed them to view VR images that were much higher quality in detail, leading them to what became a 7-hour procedure to save Teegan, who is now recovering with her family.