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January 23, 2015 1:38 PM EST

This story was originally published at the Daily Dot.

Augmented reality is still a relatively new and unknown technology. People scoff at Google Glass face computers on the street while the device is being used by doctors as both a diagnostic tool and a way to train medical students.

The hardware and software that bends reality is expected to become a part of our everyday life. But when? In fields like healthcare, it’s already being used to treat patients and improve the quality of life for those suffering from things like mental illness and vision impairments.

Helen Papagiannis, augmented reality specialist and Ph.D researcher, studies practical applications of augmented reality, and at a HealthTech Women event in San Francisco, discussed some of the ways it’s already being used in work and research environments.

OrCam is helping visually impaired people “see” text. The Tel Aviv-based company created a wearable that clips onto a pair of glasses and contains a camera and a pair of sensors. It speaks to the wearer through a bone-conduction earpiece, describing what it sees. OrCam can tell when a person is pointing to a menu, book, or any other text, and can “read” the text to the wearer. This technology has allowed people to enjoy novels before bed, go out to lunch with friends without asking them to read the menu, and look at street signs while walking through a city.

In diagnostic environments, Evena Medical gives nurses and doctors complete vision of vascular anatomy with Eyes-On Glass—by slipping on a pair of glasses, they can see the veins underneath patients’ skin, making it easier to document the best care as well as insert needles quicker and more comfortably.

“In two to five years, the definition of augmented reality is going to extend,” Papagiannis said in an interview with the Daily Dot. “We’re not going to be calling it augmented reality anymore, it really will just be reality. It will be a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, all coming together.”

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

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