Augmented Reality: Extending Real-Time Information During Surgery

While this column has covered many areas of artificial intelligence (AI), there hasn’t been much described about augmented reality (AR). This is a technology made famous and then forgotten by many via the overblown hype of Google glasses earlier this decade. The concept was that general use AR was just around the corner. Nope. What has slowly happened is that AR providers have focused more on narrow applications in the same way as early intelligence systems focused on specific domains rather than genera intelligence. As with other aspects of AI, including vision and robotics, one of the areas of AR focus is medicine.

Optical surgeons have to eyeball (yeah, I know, I just couldn’t help myself…) their work. Augmented reality can help provide information while the surgery is happening in the same way that a heads-up display helps pilots and some drivers, understand what’s happening while not having to look away from their surroundings to check a control panel. Ocutrx Vision Technologies is a Southern California startup that has just announced a product to help those surgeons. ORLenz™ is based on work they did with AR for patients suffering from macular degeneration. From their press release, this product allows for a 120 degree field of view and a resolution of sixty pixels-per-degree —the highest resolution the human eye can discern (at 20/20). Ocutrx has developed its own 6DoF (6 degrees of freedom) platform for enhanced 2D and 3D ‘posing’ of graphics and holograms from MRI’s, CT scans and other 2D/3D/4D medical imaging.”

Ocutrx is clearly a startup, as their website focus on themselves rather than market first, shows. Still, they show that, unlike their claim that they are developing “AR glasses for the masses”, they do clearly understand that you start with more focused solutions. They show an interest in medical, industrial, and other areas where domain knowledge can be captured and visuals enhanced. This is somewhat inline with a number of other companies that I’ve heard from who are looking at how to improve operating theaters with AR, robotics, and other advanced technologies. Doctors are highly skilled professionals, but nobody is perfect. There’s clearly room for technology to provide improved information and control that helps those professionals improve their performance and success rates.

Augmented reality has seen much hype. What I’ve been waiting to see is a focus on doable solutions in specific domains. While they are still a young company, reflecting the place of AR in the market, Ocutrx seems to be to be something that advanced hospitals interested in AR may wish to investigate.

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David A. Teich is interested in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics, and other advances technologies, focused on how they help businesses im

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