Google’s Augmented Reality Microscope Quickly Highlights Cancer Cells

by Jamie Feltham • April 20th, 2018

Discovering and diagnosing cancer may have just become much easier thanks to augmented reality.

Google Research this week revealed an AR microscope (ARM) capable of detecting cancerous cells in real-time with the help of machine learning. Locating cancer with a standard microscope is a difficult and time-consuming process, with a raft of information for doctors to study and investigate. With this new solution, though, the microscope is able to quickly locate cancerous cells and then highlight them as a doctor peers inside.

The platform uses a modified light microscope integrated with image analysis and machine learning algorithms into its field of view. An AR display sits above a camera that communicates with the algorithm to display data as soon as it locates an issue. In order words, the microscope immediately beings looking for cancerous cells as soon as you place a sample beneath it. It’s effectively doing the same job as a doctor just, according to Google, a lot faster.

Crucially, ARM can be retrofitted into existing devices, meaning it could be a more affordable solution that you might first think.

Ultimately ARM could be used for diagnosing other diseases like tuberculosis and malaria too. Exactly when we’ll see the prototype develop into something more widely-used is unclear, but this is a promising start to say the least.

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