Background: Virtual reality (VR) technology has started to gain attention as a form of surgical support in medical settings. Likewise, the widespread use of smartphones has resulted in the development of various medical applications; for example, Google Cardboard, which can be used to build simple head-mounted displays (HMDs). However, because of the absence of observed and reported outcomes of the use of three-dimensional (3D) organ models in relevant environments, we have yet to determine the effects of or issues with the use of such VR technology. Objective: The aim of this paper was to study the issues that arise while observing a 3D model of an organ that is created based on an actual surgical case through the use of a smartphone-based simple HMD. Upon completion, we evaluated and gathered feedback on the performance and usability of the simple observation environment we had created. Methods: We downloaded our data to a smartphone (Galaxy S6; Samsung, Seoul, Korea) and created a simple HMD system using Google Cardboard (Google). A total of 17 medical students performed 2 experiments: An observation conducted by a single observer and another one carried out by multiple observers using a simple HMD. Afterward, they assessed the results by responding to a questionnaire survey. Results: We received a largely favorable response in the evaluation of the dissection model, but also a low score because of visually induced motion sickness and eye fatigue. In an introspective report on simultaneous observations made by multiple observers, positive opinions indicated clear image quality and shared understanding, but displeasure caused by visually induced motion sickness, eye fatigue, and hardware problems was also expressed. Conclusions: We established a simple system that enables multiple persons to observe a 3D model. Although the observation conducted by multiple observers was successful, problems likely arose because of poor smartphone performance. Therefore, smartphone performance improvement may be a key factor in establishing a low-cost and user-friendly 3D observation environment.
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