Dentistry Enters the Metaverse
The Dental Design Studio, a group with 15 locations across the UK, became the first dental practice to enter the metaverse, according to the company's Clinical Director, Jeff Sherer. "We set up sites within the popular metaverse known as The Sandbox," Sherer writes in an article published in May by the UK magazine Dentistry.1
Wired magazine defines the metaverse as an entity that can include virtual reality as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds, and can also be accessed through PCs, game consoles, and even phones.2 Wikipedia defines it as "a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets," but adds that "in colloquial use, a metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection." Sherer describes it as "a very modern version of The Sims."1
The Sandbox, meanwhile, is described on its website as "a community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel ASSETS and gaming experiences on the blockchain."
So, what can a dental practice accomplish in this space? Sherer says The Dental Design Studio intends to provide virtual dental treatment, consultations, and information, as well as mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) such as a limited-edition set of digital gold teeth.1 "Dental practices appearing in the metaverse can create brand awareness and advertising opportunities," Sherer says. "More and more mainstream companies are purchasing land in the metaverse with the knowledge that it provides them with excellent exposure to wealthy, tech-savvy clients. In the future, we may see dental courses and lectures being provided in the metaverse."1
Will this strategy work, and catch on with more dental practices and perhaps even laboratories? Time will tell, but the global metaverse market is estimated to grow from $100.27 billion in 2022 to $1.53 trillion in 2029, so it is worth monitoring.
1. Sherer J. Dentistry and the metaverse. Dentistry website. https://dentistry.co.uk/2022/05/07/dentistry-and-the-metaverse/. Published May 7, 2022. Accessed May 31, 2022.
2. Ravenscraft E. What Is the Metaverse, Exactly? Wired website. https://www.wired.com/story/what-is-the-metaverse/. Published April 25, 2022. Accessed May 31, 2022.
Researchers Propose New Regulatory Structure for AI
Artificial intelligence in dentistry continues to expand, but how will it be regulated in the future? Via a hybrid model of centralized and decentralized regulation, if a team of public health researchers have their way.
Trishan Panch, MPH, MD, President of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is the primary author of an article published in May by PLOS Digital Health. "Our opinion is that, at scale, the incumbent model of centralized regulation of clinical AI will not ensure the safety, efficacy, and equity of implemented systems," they write, referring to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "We propose a hybrid model of regulation, where centralized regulation would only be required for applications of clinical AI where the inference is entirely automated without clinician review, have a high potential to negatively impact the health of patients and for algorithms that are to be applied at national scale by design."
After explaining their proposal, the authors acknowledge that it "is not currently possible," saying it requires the establishment of a specialty of clinical AI and an accountability framework, as well as the development of open data assets, AI registries, and a robust process for public engagement.
1. Panch T et al. (2022) A distributed approach to the regulation of clinical AI. PLOS Digital Health.2022;1(5): e0000040.
New 3D Printing Technology Utilizes Soundwaves
The concept of 3D printing encompasses a number of additive technologies, and a new one was added to the list recently: Direct sound printing (DSP). A team of scientists at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, introduced a new platform technology that uses soundwaves to produce new objects. "Ultrasound activated sonochemical reactions present a unique way to generate hotspots in cavitation bubbles with extraordinary high temperature and pressure along with high heating and cooling rates which are out of reach for the current additive manufacturing technologies," they say in an article published in April by Nature Communications. The scientists posit that the photo- and thermo-activated reactions utilized by current additive technologies limit them to photo-sensitive resins and thermoplastic filaments or powders. "If one could unleash the potential of sonochemistry in additive manufacturing processes, an unconventional route for printing conventional as well as impossible-to-print materials with usual energy sources would emerge," they say.
1. Habibi M, Foroughi S, Karamzadeh V, Packirisamy M. Direct sound printing. Nat Commun. 2022;13:1800.