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Surgeons using computer vision and augmented reality in medical imaging

Augmented reality in the real world

February 18, 2020

Worldwide spending on Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is expected to reach US$18.8bn this year[1], with retail and manufacturing industries splashing out the most. Computer vision is a key factor in bringing digital solutions to life. Advanced hardware and software are adding extra dimensions to the mix, and the technology is moving quickly out of the gaming industry and into more mainstream functions.

AR describes the use of overlaid digital information onto a real-world view, often using smart glasses such as the Magic Leap 1. Instead of creating a virtual environment, as in VR, AR allows users to enrich their real-life experience by adding extra elements, or even removing them. AI is also playing its part, allowing objects viewed to be recognized, categorized and manipulated using image processing and machine learning algorithms. This means that a person’s view can be enhanced to include information not usually visible or accessible, and, furthermore, and they can interact with that information.

Inspiring industry
We looked at another buzz word, Industrial Augmented Reality or (IAR), back in November as part of our Industry 4.0 update, and how the use of AR in an industrial setting can create visual prototypes and digital simulations, massively reducing R&D costs and time to market. IAR combines the use of cameras, sensors, and image processing hardware with eye-tracking technology and superimposing techniques in order to speed up design processes and even carry out quality checks. For example, engineers can now use tools such as the ARSENZ ThermoGlass to check for gas leaks or areas of overheating within a system.

Computer-generated healthcare
Medical imaging is one area which is actively embracing AR due to the extra amount of vital data that can be accessed during medical procedures and laboratory research.

Last year, Google introduced us to its Augmented Reality Microscope, or ARM. The platform can be retro-fitted onto existing light microscopes; AI tools overlay additional digital information onto the sample, enabling real-time, automated detection of cancer cells.

Augmedics has developed its xvision spine augmented reality guidance system specifically for use in spinal surgical procedures. A near-eye-display headset and navigational system superimposes data from the patient’s CT image and the position of surgical tools onto the surgeon’s retina, allowing them to visualise the patient, scan and navigation data without having to look away from the procedure.

Active Silicon are proud to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies, and AR is no different. We have been supplying a custom embedded system for a leading medical AR solution for a number of years. The custom embedded PC merges the real world, viewed through up to four USB3 cameras simultaneously, with overlaid digital data to give surgeons increased visibility and accuracy during operations.

Our engineers are working closely with researchers and medical professionals to bring advanced computer vision techniques to even more healthcare providers. Contact us for more details of our advanced image processing capabilities.

[1] https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS45679219

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