• Roman Bharati

Volumetric Imaging Technology and the Development of Advanced Medical Training and Procedure

In Canada, surgical unsuccess in the medical field has been steadily rising. The Canadian Institute for Health Information stated that 553 external items were left inside the bodies of patients between 2016 and 2018 (Szklarski, 2019). These statistics point to a lack of training for medical procedures, possibly fostering permanent damage. As time has continued, and the demand for advanced medical procedures increase, medical training has become obsolete and needs to be updated. Holography, specifically, volumetric imaging technology, could help avoid certain procedural errors through interactivity.


Firstly, there are two types of holography - stereoscopic holography, and true 3-D holography. Stereoscopic holography consists of splitting a light beam by shining a light source through a half-mirror, to create 2 light beams. The object beam bounces off a mirror, hits the object, and reflects onto the photographic plate, whereas the reference beam (second beam) bounces off another mirror and hits the same photographic plate (Woodford, 2019). When the two light beams meet they create a sense of depth at certain angles.


Health Information stated that 553 external items were left inside the bodies of patients between 2016 and 2018 (Szklarski, 2019). These statistics point to a lack of training for medical procedures, possibly fostering permanent damage. As time has continued, and the demand for advanced medical procedures increase, medical training has become obsolete and needs to be updated. Holography, specifically, volumetric imaging technology, could help avoid certain procedural errors through interactivity.


Firstly, there are two types of holography - stereoscopic holography, and true 3-D holography. Stereoscopic holography consists of splitting a light beam by shining a light source through a half-mirror, to create 2 light beams. The object beam bounces off a mirror, hits the object, and reflects onto the photographic plate, whereas the reference beam (second beam) bounces off another mirror and hits the same photographic plate (Woodford, 2019). When the two light beams meet they create a sense of depth at certain angles.


However, this essay investigates true 3-D holograms, or “volumetric images”, which can be seen from all angles. Volumetric images are produced by using a laser beam to confine a particle, then maneuvering that beam to move the particle and create an image. A particle moving rapidly at a sufficient rate appears as a solid line and can form shapes. Further, to create the image, a single point is dragged sequentially through all of the image points, thus scattering the light. This light scattering creates a 3-D image that can be seen from all angles. This is similar to 3-D printing as one point is moved through all of the image points to create 3-D images in space. (Gibney, 2018)

The potential of this technology is limitless, the medical field would benefit from it the most, increasing productivity, advancing training, and improving the accuracy of medical results. However, there are certain positive and negative implications that must be considered.


Volumetric imaging technology could positively affect society. Such technology could be used in the medical field, military cartography, and even information storage (Pepper, 2017). An example of this is Voxon, which, in 2017, released its product, the Voxon Vx1 for sale at approximately $ 10,000 USD (Voxon, 2017). Functioning as a supercomputer, it allows for the viewing and scaling of files in true 3-D, producing volumetric images within a dome of glass. This is the first step in the integration of volumetric imaging technology into society. Medical professionals can use this to examine certain conditions, diagnose early, and train for procedures, resulting in a healthier society.


The environment is both positively and negatively influenced by volumetric imaging technology. Positively, true 3-D holography can be thought of as 3-D printing with light (Gibney, 2018). This, in turn, is more practical than 3-D printing from other plastic material, as they are not easily degradable. It is the obtainability of 3-D printing that concerns plastic pollution. Such printing has opened up boundless possibilities for instantaneous manufacturing (Hall, 2019). Often, 3-D printers are used to get an idea of specific objects in space. By using volumetric imaging technology, this need can be completely eliminated, reducing plastic consumption.


Nevertheless, the environment is affected negatively by this technology. Considering the negative implication, it is crucial to understand the next steps for this technology: i) increase scale ii) commercialize. Commercialization could result in increased manufacturing for the housing of laser beams, and rapid particle activator, as well as framing. If made from plastic, or other non-degradable materials, this would increase the burden on the environment. Internationally, roughly 360 million tons of plastic were manufactured in 2018 (Knoblauch, 2020). This signifies that an environmental effect would be prevalent.


The economic implications of this technology are also negative. Trapping and accelerating multiple particles, concurrently, can become challenging to fund. Products that use this technology, such as the Voxtron Vx1 ($ 10,000 USD) exemplify this. Traditional volumetric imaging technology uses high-grade lasers as beams, and Holographic Optical Trapping, using computer-generated holograms, laser space modifiers, and high-numerical-aperture lenses (Grier et al., 2008). Consequently, further efficiency is required.


Evaluating volumetric imaging technology, it’s an incredible concept with infinite potential. Medically, training for advanced procedures would be enriched. It could improve several other aspects of society and reduce plastic pollution. However, it could also deteriorate the environment through its own manufacturing. Further, its cost needs have kept it from greater use. Ultimately, it still faces certain challenges to commercial use, namely, decreasing costs through improvements in energy efficiency. Nevertheless, it is possible in the near future that large medical institutions will utilize these technologies to develop our understanding of humans and the world around us.