HoloLens, Magic Leap 2, Vuzix M400, RealWear Navigator 500 – Which AR Headset Performs Best in Healthcare?

HoloLens, Magic Leap 2, Vuzix M400, RealWear Navigator 500 – Which AR Headset Performs Best in Healthcare?

Published: 28-05-2024
Updated: 28-05-2024

Augmented Reality arrived in the healthcare industry as a transformative force for many medical practices. Medical training, patient care, surgical solutions and remote consultations have benefited from AR hardware and software becoming a part of modern healthcare systems.

This article looks into different AR headsets, specifically the HoloLens, Magic Leap 2, Vuzix M400, RealWear Navigator 500, and evaluates how and if they meet the demands of the healthcare sector. We will focus on specific hardware features, associated software and applications, and the certifications they must meet to ensure compliance and safety in medical settings.

Hardware Comparison

Design and Comfort

In healthcare settings, workers need to wear devices for extended periods, so the ergonomy of headsets comes forward. They must be lightweight, comfortable, but robust enough to withstand regular use in clinical environments. These devices make the cut:

Vuzix M400 and RealWear Navigator 500 are both designed for industrial and field applications. Since their main strength is durability, they are suitable for hospital environments. Vuzix weighs 180 grams, and the RealWear Navigator 272 grams, so they’re also lightweight options that will withstand long-duration uses.

Magic Leap 2 has a balanced design with comfort and ease of wear as main strengths, and according to reviews, it goes without causing significant strain as it weighs only 248 grams. Magic Leap has been a device of choice for surgical use cases. HoloLens weighs circa 566 grams. It joins the category with a good balance across the user’s head, and minimizes pressure points during long procedures. It is often used in medical training due to its great position tracking that contributes to high-quality medical simulations.

Display Technology

Accuracy, clarity and resolution of visuals play a big role in medical settings. Usually there is a great level of detail that has to be visualized in order to get the diagnostics right.

Magic Leap 2 has a decent high-resolution display with 1440×1760 pixels per eye. It’s enough for visuals in surgical procedures to display anatomical structures. HoloLens has a holographic display with a resolution of 2k 3:2 light engines, which translates to approximately 2048×1080 pixels per eye. It supports very high-definition visuals, and is used for surgeries and surgical training.

Vuzix M400 and RealWear Navigator 500 provide much lower resolution compared to Magic Leap 2 and Hololens. Vuzix has a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels, which is enough for selected medical applications such as patient care, monitoring, remote assistance and telemedicine, but definitely not for surgical use. The RealWear Navigator 500 comes with a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels, slightly higher than the Vuzix M400, which enhances the clarity and detail of the visual information displayed, but since this is primarily an “assistant” device, even in industrial settings, for medical use is suitable for task instructions and data visualization.

Audio and Voice Controls

Audio quality and voice control capabilities are important for hands-free operation in medical settings, so let’s see how the performance looks in this category.

The RealWear Navigator 500 and Vuzix M400 both have noise-canceling. It’s a major advantage in noisy clinical settings like emergency rooms or busy wards, as there shouldn’t be any interference in hearing and executing commands. HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 also integrate audio systems that support voice commands, but don’t have noise canceling. They can help with maintaining sterility during surgeries or interactions with patient records, which can be done without any physical contact.


Surgical Assistance and Training

Magic Leap 2 and HoloLens: These two score with high-resolution displays, and are the go-tos for surgical assistance and medical training. The main objective here is to capture sharp images of structural anatomy. Hololens includes holographic technology with a high-definition display that supports spatial understanding and precision, and both headsets incorporate dynamic dimming and focus capabilities, helping surgeons to concentrate on specific areas of interest within the surgical field without distractions. This technology finds application in training that uses real-time augmented overlays, specifically in step-by-step guidance on surgical procedures.

RealWear Navigator 500 and Vuzix M400: With lower resolution and given camera features, these headsets can be more of a supportive force in less demanding medical use cases. It can be surgery, but more with focus on providing visual aids during less invasive procedures, and probably not in procedural use. They can be a great teaching tool in education, or can stream procedures to students.

Patient Management and Remote Consultations

As mentioned, the RealWear Navigator 500 has excellent streaming capabilities, and can stream high-quality video during remote patient assessments. HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 can be used for remote diagnostics due to higher resolution and connectivity features. Both can be used to overlay diagnostic information directly into the user’s field of view, and integrate with patient data and imaging.

Therapeutic Uses and Rehabilitation

HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 are effective in therapeutic settings and rehabilitation. Since AR is partially immersive, therapy is more focused on engaging patients in their treatment plans than full immersion in virtual reality that is mostly used as a rehabilitation mode. For instance, in physical therapy, AR can be used to guide patients through exercises with visual cues and corrections. Or it can be used for cognitive rehabilitation, these devices can simulate real-life scenarios that help patients recover skills in a controlled yet realistic manner. For therapy, Vuzix M400 and RealWear Navigator 500 can be used for simpler rehabilitation tasks, patient interaction, hands-free tasks and providing instructions through the headset during rehab sessions.

Certifications and Compliance

Medical Device Certifications

The integration of AR into healthcare is not just about technological capabilities but also about meeting strict regulatory standards for their use. Medical grade device certifications, such as ISO certifications, are issued from bodies like the CE in Europe or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States. They confirm that the devices meet high standards of safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality, as anything else that is used in healthcare environments.

Microsoft has developed versions of HoloLens that are specifically built for healthcare and industrial applications. These models undergo more testing than non-certified Hololenses and go through certification processes to meet the specific regulatory requirements for medical devices. For example, Hololens 2 has received ISO 13485 certification for medical devices, which is a global standard for medical device safety and quality. Hololens has also received CE Marking, which indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA). Additionally it supports HIPAA compliance through secure data handling and privacy protocols.

Magic Leap 2, RealWear Navigator 500, and Vuzix M400: These were originally designed for industrial use, but are rightfully finding their place in medicine. This adaptation is known to the manufacturers, so they do consider the devices’ compliance with medical certification standards. As of now, they don’t hold a comparable certification as Hololens.

Data Security and Patient Privacy

In addition to medical device certifications, data security and patient privacy come to the forefront as critical considerations. AR devices are capable of collecting and processing data (such as patient data), so they must comply with health data protection regulations, such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the U.S., or similar laws in other jurisdictions.

It is essential that all these devices incorporate encryption methods for data transmission and storage. Features like secure user authentication, which HoloLens and Moziware Cimo (another AR headset for industrial use) incorporate through mechanisms like password protection and biometric data (fingerprint recognition for Cimo).

Conclusion and Recommendations

Recommendations and key advantages:

HoloLens – Recommended for high-precision medical procedures and training. Due to advanced holographic display, high resolution, and comprehensive certifications including ISO 13485, Hololens is perfectly suited for surgeries and complex medical training. It has great ergonomy, meets regulatory compliance and makes a top choice in this review.

Magic Leap 2 – The second best device in this article’s selection, a great choice for interactive patient care and medical training. It has high-resolution display and dynamic focusing that are needed for visual tasks and dynamic motion interaction. It’s particularly useful in rehabilitative and therapeutic settings.

RealWear Navigator 500 and Vuzix M400 – These devices are more appropriate for general medical training, remote consultations, and patient management. They possess high durability and excellent communication features, and they are particularly effective in environments that do not require the highest visual fidelity but benefit from robust build and efficient data access.

Key advantages to consider:

  • High resolution and display technology – HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 offer superior visual clarity
  • Ergonomic design – HoloLens ideal due to their balanced and ergonomic designs
  • Certifications and compliance – HoloLens leads in this area, providing assurance of safety and efficacy for medical use
  • Data security – All chosen devices must feature encryption and secure access to meet healthcare privacy standards
  • Versatility and application support – HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 provide extensive software ecosystems that can be tailored to specific medical tasks

The selection should be based on the specific medical applications, as each headset has unique strengths. HoloLens comes out as the strongest candidate for demanding use cases needing to meet regulations standards or extra capabilities. Each of them can be a good performer in their respective categories.

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Petra Palusova

Written by Petra Palusova

Petra Palusova is writer for the VRX blog with an affinity for all-things-XR. Architect, systems scientist specialized in XR and synthetic environments, Petra is currently active as a product design lead, advisor and researcher delivering best practices, communications and business strategies to technology companies building XR products and platforms. A true jack of all trades!

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