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Tampere University is revolutionising medical imaging with the help of virtual reality and AI

Published on 12.12.2019
Tampere University
Kuvantamisdatan tuominen virtuaalitodellisuuteen antaa lääkärille mahdollisuuden sukeltaa ihmisen sisään. Kuva: SurgeryVision TMBringing imaging data to virtual reality enables doctors to “dive” into a patient’s body. They can move freely in the three-dimensional virtual model and focus on the demanding points. Photograph: SurgeryVision TM
Tampere University is leading an ambitious research consortium that explores ways to present medical imaging data with new three-dimensional methods. The project leverages virtual reality (VR), multi-sensory presentation, voice and gesture control, 3D printing, and haptic feedback to provide new ways to interact with large data masses. Alongside this, artificial intelligence (AI) methods are used to analyse data in order to support diagnoses faster than human experts do.

Digital imaging is an essential part of modern medicine. Magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, cone beam computed tomography and ultrasound imaging provide information for diagnosis and treatment planning. However, the information technology for producing and processing these images is based on two-dimensional slice images traditionally used in the field (e.g., X-rays), although the tissues and structures examined are three-dimensional.

“Three-dimensional perception is a challenge with the current tools,” Irina Rinta-Kiikka, Director of TAYS Radiology, and Jorma Järnstedt, Specialist of Dento-maxillofacial Radiology say. “It will take years for new doctors to learn how two-dimensional slice images show the patient’s real condition and even more experienced doctors need more effective tools when they plan surgeries,” they continue. In order to meet these challenges, a pioneering consortium of research groups and companies has come together to tackle the problems.

3D modelling and visualisation, for example, with virtual reality (VR), are commonplace in many fields. However, the tools and methods used there are not directly applicable to medicine, which targets real human beings rather than systems designed by engineers. Human imaging must be able to represent complex biological structures and their properties. New technologies make this even more effective.

“Bringing imaging data, for example, to virtual reality enables doctors to dive into patients’ bodies. They can move freely in a three-dimensional virtual model and focus on the demanding points. Haptic feedback improves the understanding of tissues and their properties. As the result of the project, doctors can concentrate on patient data without having to use a mouse or other hand-held controllers,” says Consortium Coordinator, Professor Roope Raisamo from Tampere University. The aim is to make the use of new tools a natural part of the treatment process. At the same time, treatments can be speeded up, made more effective and their quality improved. Artificial intelligence techniques can free doctors from routine work to focus on more demanding cases.

DPI (Digital and Physical Immersion in Radiology and Surgery) is a two-year research project funded by Business Finland that involves Tampere University, Tampere University Hospital, Planmeca Oy, Adesante Oy, 3DStep Oy, Disior Oy, Glue Collaboration, MVision AI Oy, Osgenic and Varjo Technologies Ltd., and other companies. The total budget of the project is €2.8 million. The project is coordinated by Tampere University and will run in 2019–2021.


Professor Roope Raisamo
Tampere University
roope.raisamo [at]
tel. +358 50 570 2007

Specialist of Dento-Maxillofacial Radiology Jorma Järnstedt
Tampere University Hospital
jorma.jarnstedt [at]
tel. +358 50 517 6386