TedX Education Award 2017

EDtech innovation team from Leiden University develops first interactive mixed reality HoloLens application for medical education to investigate anatomy with your own body movements.

A team of experts from the University of Leiden and the Leiden UMC has added a new feature to the Microsoft HoloLens, which enables the medical holograms in the app to move with the human body. This enables a real-time, three-dimensional model for students to learn from, using their own bodies as learning tools. This immersive way of learning through Mixed Reality is a game-changer in higher education, and has many more possible applications which are still being developed daily.

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What can be the significance of ‘mixed reality’ (a blended form of virtual reality and real-life) for (medical) education? This is the main question of our team of the Centre for Innovation/ LUMC of Leiden University who are working on an experiment using the the Microsoft HoloLens.

The Microsoft HoloLens is a type of goggles which can project holographic models on the existing environment, creating a so-called ‘augmented reality’. By projecting objects, figures or anything on reality, users can walk around and study the hologram from different angles and perspectives. One of the unique capabilities of the HoloLens is the ability for users to interact with the holograms using hand gestures and word commands.

As a first experiment the HoloLens will be used to teach (bio)medical students about the anatomy of the ankle. Within the experiment presented here, an anatomical model is displayed next to the human body. By connecting the human body movements and the virtual anatomical model, (bio)medical students can learn from their own physical movements while studying the virtual model. A crucial component for success is the embedding of the experiment in larger learning experience based on a concrete (real-life) case.

Adaptive and personalised learning

Using the HoloLens for education contributes to making education more adaptive and personalised for technical and educational reasons. In the technical sense, students can study the simulations in their personally preferred way due to the holographic 3D model projected in the room. Educationally, the HoloLens adds an affective component to the study of abstract models, by creating ownership of the students on their learning experience.

Learning effects to be studied

The experiment is a partnership between the New Media Lab at the Centre for Innovation and the department of Anatomy and Embryology (ANA) and Centre for Innovation of Medical Education at the LUMC. Dr. Beerend Hierck of the LUMC and of the Leiden Teachers Academy, will study the effects and outcomes of this type of 3D learning.

Promoting innovative teaching

The team won the Surfnet Innovation Challenge 2016/ 2017 with their plan. SURF is an ICT teaching and research collaboration in the Netherlands. Their aim of the annual Innovation Challenge is to stimulate innovation in teaching. The best proposals were each honoured 20.000 euros to realise the experiment.


The experiment will be developed from December 2016 and the results of the study will be published in June 2017.