September 20, 2017 – Israel based, AUGmedics is the inventor of an augmented reality technology designed to enhance the performance of surgeons doing spinal operations. Called ViZOR, the application provides a heads-up display that enhances a surgeon’s perception. ViZOR gives the wearer a 3D spinal projection that goes below the skin by using the information of the patient’s CT scan.
ViZOR uses see-through optics that project a 3D image of the patient’s spine directly to the surgeon’s retina. But before the wearer can proceed there is a bit of preparation. First, the CT scan has to be filtered to just show spinal segments eliminating the surrounding soft tissue. Second, markers have to be positioned on the patient’s skin to map the spine’s precise position. Third, surgical instruments to be used in the procedure must also be marked.
Once all that is done ViZOR takes between 10 and 20 seconds to calibrate itself. It then uses the markers along with CT scan images to track the spine in real time and in 3D adjusting for every patient breath.to an accuracy of approximately 1.4 millimeters. How good is that? For the U.S. FDA to approve new surgical technology the requirement is visual accuracy of under 2 millimeters and ViZOR delivers. It is expected, therefore, that FDA approval will happen sometime in the next two years after pre-clinical and clinical trials are completed. So far over 50 surgeons have put on ViZOR and describe the technology as giving them “superhero capabilities.”
AUGmedics was founded in 2014 and received initial funding from within Israel with the assistance of the Israel Innovation Authority. In its latest round of financing, the company has secured over $8.3 million to complete its research and development, pre-clinical and clinical trials.
The company also has plans to branch into other types of surgical procedures. It intends to use data it collects from sensors applied within the patient procedure. Analysis of data collected from these sensors using machine learning will help to produce a surgical assistant with more than just eyes. The goal is to have ViZOR anticipate problems and alert surgeons throughout operations about anything that might need extra attention.
Augmented reality for the surgical suite is expected to become big business in the next few years. Analyst Technavio forecasts a compound annual growth rate of better than 7% and projects annual sales near a billion dollars by 2020.