Segar Annamalai

CIO, West Coast University

Supernova Award Category: 

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Humanity

The Company: 

For over 100 years, West Coast University has been educating and preparing students for professional careers. WCU is committed to a unique student-centric approach to advanced healthcare education- combining thinking with hands-on experience to put our students “ahead of the curve.”

Across our six modern facilities in Southern California, Texas, and Florida we offer undergraduate degrees in nursing and dental hygiene as well as Graduate and Doctorate programs in nursing, health administration, occupational therapy, physical therapy and pharmacy.

The Problem: 

The industry has used a combination of cadavers, books and models to teach students anatomy for over 100 years.

One of the biggest challenges for students learning anatomy is understanding the human body in a single dimensional view and how all the different systems fit together. Today's students find it challenging learning human anatomy using text books because:

  • they only see single dimension
  • information is presented as a simple collection of facts and figures
  • lessons can not be tailored to specific attributes matter of interest
  • next generation of students are accustomed to interactive and immersive experiences
  • learning is constrained to a classroom and limited to classroom time
The Solution: 

The Microsoft Hololens provided a high-definition holograms to life and the technology was simple to use, navigate, and provided us with a mobile solution.

By leveraging AnatomyX and Microsoft HoloLens, West Coast University has created an immersive Mixed Reality learning platform that both compliments and advances traditional anatomy curricula through the power of augmented reality (AR). This platform allows multiple students and professors to simultaneously explore 3D human anatomy in ways never before possible by leveraging recent breakthroughs in immersive computing.

The new curriculium approach helped the students get a new point of view of anatomy, it gave them the opportunity to investigate, walk around, and delve inside their subjects.  

WCU is the first nursing school in the world to use the MS HoloLens platform for augmented reality teaching.

The Results: 

At West Coast University, we are about transforming student learning and being “Ahead Of The Curve.” This technology is improving student experience and helps stimulate proactive learning and transforming student learning.

Augmented Reality motivates learning, allows to students to become self-learners, explore and learn in different ways, by visualizing hard to understand body parts.The next generation of students are able to better relate to this new modality of student learning. Students are able to comprehend and retain the information which allows them to learn faster while improving their learning outcomes.

Approximately 200 students have successfully completed the Anatomy class using Augmented Reality technology. The students test results have improved and they have provided positive feedback.


We have conducted several Anatomy classes using Augmented Reality technology and compared the outcomes to classes taught in a traditional format. Students using the Microsoft HoloLens Anatomy classes achieved a one letter grade improvement as compared to the non-AR classes.

Students using the Augmented Reality technology scored a “B” average, while the non-Augmented Reality students scored a “C” average. 

In the last term, we measured the pre-test to post-test efficacy of 150 students. The students demonstrated a 1-2 letter grade improvement after using Augmented Reality to learn human systems.

Students reported that the Augmented Reality technology was very instrumental in their learning. 92% of the students indicated that AR helped accomplish the objectives of the course and 95% indicated their learning was enhanced.

The Technology: 

Microsoft Hololens hardware combined with software developed by Medivis is the technology being used.  

Microsoft HoloLens enables holographic computing using optical system, advanced sensors, a custom CPU, and the support of the entire Windows ecosystem. HoloLens blends physical objects and environments with 3D data.

MediVis transformed medical visualization through proprietary holographic rendering. 

Disruptive Factor: 

Augmented Reality technology is able to meet the needs of the next generation of student learners by providing a highly engaging simulation-based learning environment. This new technology has enabled us to attract a new group of students into the nursing profession which is facing a severe shortage of nurses.

For the first time, students are able to collaborate and visualize human anatomy using augmented reality and artificial intelligence which provides a next level of understanding of the inner working of the human body. In addition, the mobility of the technology solution combined with remote learning capabilities provides greater flexibility and just in time learning for the students

While providing core benefits of improved learning, the AnatomyX platform is also a key differentiator in the recruitment process of prospective students. Integrated use of this technology within our curriculum demonstrates the forward-thinking practices of our leadership to reciprocally empower our next-generation of students.

At West Coast University, we have managed to combine Augmented Reality technology with Simulation Lab that provides unparallel learning experiences that does not exist any other nursing school. WCU nurses will be better prepared in their future workplace.

Shining Moment: 

The team faced numerous challenges in implementing a cutting edge technology from provisioning of hardware, storing of the equipment, software updates, and deployment of software to training of faculty and students. Despite all the challenges, the team was able to complete implementation within 6 months and the students acheived a one letter grade improvement.

Successful implementation of the AnatomyX platform marks the first known enterprise use of AR in a nursing school. 

About West Coast University

WCU is a private institution focused on health care education. WCU offers both undergraduate and graduate health sciences degrees. WCU campuses are located in California, Texas and Florida. WCU now offers Online RN to BSN, RN to MSN and MSN. WCU strives to stay on the leading edge of the health care industry, preparing graduates for a career they love and meets the needs of the community.