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    8 emerging technologies that will change the dental laboratory

    These innovations are already in other industries—and they’re coming to dentistry soon, bringing changes that will have huge implications.

     

    Augmented reality

    Augmented reality

    While it’s often lumped in with virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) is its own technology with its own potential uses for the dental laboratory. Simply explained, AR is basically the merging of the “real” world with digitally-rendered graphics, often 3D. The easiest way to imagine it is by looking at your smartphone camera app, and imagining that what you see on your screen has something “fake” overlaid on it. That’s AR, in a nutshell.

    Looking back: The predictions from industry voices for tech in 2017

    So far, it’s been tricky for anyone to gain significant traction in AR. Perhaps the most notable example was the release of Pokémon Go in 2016, which used the camera on peoples’ smartphones to blend computer “pocket monsters” with the real world. Snapchat also dabbles in AR with some of its filters that overlay graphics with actual images.

    For dentistry and dental labs, there are a myriad of applications that could eventually stem from AR technology. Imagine if patients could see an immediate image of their improved smile, in real time, based on actual STL files created with CAD software—in short, a super-accurate “try before you buy” AR filter that would help patients visualize the final restorative option. Other possible applications could include AR-powered glasses that allow technicians to keep shade guide, prescription details and other information handy when finishing, staining or polishing a final restoration. AR presents some exciting possibilities in dentistry.

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    Ryan Hamm
    Ryan Hamm is the Editorial Director for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.

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