Health technology firm Royal Philips has showcased augmented reality concept developed with technology giant Microsoft for image-guided minimally invasive therapies.


Image: Phillips showcases new augmented-reality based technology for minimally invasive surgeries. Photo: Courtesy of Koninklijke Philips N.V.

The companies have collaborated to combine Philips’ Azurion image-guided therapy platform with Microsoft HoloLens 2 mixed reality computing platform as a concept for the operating room of the future.

As opposed to open surgery, minimally invasive therapies need a small incision. Instruments such as catheters are inserted through the incision and guided to the treatment area, which can include the heart, blood vessels, brain, liver and other major organs.

During such minimally invasive procedures, the surgeons cannot directly see and touch the treatment area. Instead, they rely on medical imaging technologies such as ultra-low dose X-ray imaging and ultrasound, as well as other navigation technologies, to see inside the patient and guide their actions.

The new augmented reality concept from Phillips and Microsoft is touted to offer live imaging and other sources of vital data currently displayed on large 2D screens into 3D holographic augmented reality environment that can be easily controlled by the physician.

The concept is being used to further gather clinical insights to further support the development of commercially-available augmented reality solutions for use in image-guided procedures.

Philips image guided therapy chief medical officer and practicing interventional and diagnostic radiologist Atul Gupta said: “The transition from open surgery to image-guided procedures has driven a seismic shift in improving patient outcomes and reducing costs – not least by dramatically reducing the length of time a patient stays in a hospital after their procedure. On our Azurion platform we seamlessly integrate a range of data sources in a way that’s intuitive to understand and control. By collaborating with Microsoft and HoloLens 2 we can take it to the next level, immersing the physician in a tailored augmented reality environment.

“This concept allows me to see the real world superimposed with the live data and 3D medical imagery needed to guide our precision therapy, and importantly also lets me control Azurion with voice recognition, eye tracking and advanced gestures. It’s all about keeping our focus on the patient.”

Microsoft recently unveiled HoloLens 2, which is a self-contained holographic computer that allows for hands-free, heads-up interaction with 3-dimensional digital objects. HoloLens 2 is claimed to be more immersive than its predecessor HoloLens.

Microsoft AI and mixed reality technical fellow Alex Kipman said: “Mixed reality is giving people new ways to interact with the digital and physical world, bringing the benefits of the digital revolution to entirely new experiences across the globe. I am thrilled to see companies in a broad range of industries achieve more using the products that we build with our partners and ecosystem. Mixed reality holds great potential in healthcare, and our collaboration with Philips shows how that potential is already beginning to be realized.”