Google Develop AR Microscope That Can Detect Cancer

Immersive technologies have already seen a variety of uses in healthcare to improve patient outcomes in a number of ways. A team of researchers from Google are taking it further with the reveal of a prototype Augmented Reality Microscope which can help detect cancer in real-time.

The research around the prototype AR microscope was unveiled at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Chicago, Illinois, where Google described the prototype platform as using AR and deep learning tools that could assist pathologists all over the world.

The platform consists of a modified light microscope that enables real-time image analysis and presentation of results directly into the user’s field-of-view. The device can be retrofitted into existing light microscopes, using low-cost components, without need for whole slide digital versions of the analysed tissue.

“In principle, the ARM can provide a wide variety of visual feedback, including text, arrows, contours, heatmaps or animations, and is capable of running many types of machine learning algorithms aimed at solving different problems such as object detection, quantification or classification,” wrote Martin Stumpe (Technical Lead) and Craig Mermel (Product Manager) of the Google Brain Team.

Google has tested the AR microscope to run two different cancer detection algorithms – one for breast cancer metastases in lymph node specimens, and another for prostate cancer in prostatectomy specimens. The results were said to be impressive, though Google said that further studies and assessments needed to be conducted.

“At Google, we have also published results showing that a convolutional neural network is able to detect breast cancer metastases in lymph nodes at a level of accuracy comparable to a trained pathologist,” the Google team said in its blog post. “We believe that the ARM has potential for a large impact on global health, particularly for the diagnosis of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria, in the developing countries.”

It’s just the latest in a number of developments using immersive technologies in the medtech space and further information can be found on the Google Research blog. For continued coverage of immersive technology use in healthcare, keep watching VRFocus.