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Google And US Department Of Defense To Develop AI-powered Microscope To Transform Healthcare!

By TD NewsDesk

TD NewsDesk

Updated on Tue, Sep 19, 2023

Overall Rating
Health comes first.

Surely, you’ve heard this phrase a lot throughout your life.

Now, it has caught the attention of numerous tech giants and startups working to create tools that can potentially revolutionize the healthcare industry.

Moreover, with the recent emergence of Generative AI, it’s no wonder that companies are looking in this direction for their answers.

To that end, one of the biggest technology companies in the world, Google (you must have heard of them!) is working with the US Department of Defense on an AI-driven healthcare technology.

So, what are they doing? Let’s explore:

What Is Google And The Department Of Defense Working On?

  • Google and the US Department of Defense have been working on an AI-powered tool, which is called an Augmented Reality Microscope or ARM for short. Reportedly, the two have been quietly working on it for years.

  • This microscope blends an optical microscope with real-time machine learning to offer diagnoses of cancer, as well as other areas that make use of bright-field microscopes.

  • While the technology is still in its early stages and hasn’t been used extensively to diagnose patients, it has undergone successful trials and initial research. It even helped Dr. Nadeem Zafar, a pathologist at the VA hospital (Veterans Health Administration) in Seattle, confirm a diagnosis that saw the AI flag the exact part of a tumor believed to be more aggressive.

  • The cost of an ARM is approximately $90,000 to $100,000. At present, there are 13 ARMs being used and tested across the US.

  • Researchers and officials believe this could be a handy tool to help pathologists, especially where access to a second opinion isn’t easy, especially considering how smaller labs face staffing shortages and increases in cases.

  • According to Aashima Gupta, Global Director of Healthcare Strategy and Solutions at Google Cloud, the company has released four algorithms that can identify breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and mitosis.

  • While the AI models are trained on data from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) at the Department of Defense, Gupta conveyed that neither Google employees nor Google’s infrastructure had access to it.

How Does The Augmented Reality Microscope Work?

  • A glass slide is prepared and fitted under the microscope, which is connected to a computer that contains AI models.

  • The AI then outlines the location of the cancer, appearing in a bright green line, which pathologists can see on a monitor as well as through the eyepiece on the microscope. Pathologists have the option of viewing a black and white heat map showing the cancer in a pixelated form.

  • The AI models can also provide inputs mentioning the severity of the cancer.

  • Pathologists also have the option of taking screen grabs or screenshots of the slides, which are cost-effective to store.


Who Said What?

  • Dr. Niels Olson, the Chief Medical Officer of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) at the Department of Defense, who has experience of having to make major decisions and diagnoses on his own and the difficulties therewith said, “It’s not just your job to say ‘This is cancer, it’s this kind of cancer.’ Part of the job is saying ‘It’s absolutely not cancer,’ and that can be nerve wracking when you’re alone ... I would have loved to have an Augmented Reality Microscope in Guam, just so there’d be somebody, something else helping.”

  • Speaking on Google not having access to data, Aashima Gupta said, “It’s encrypted all the way … From how the data is collected, how it is stored and how it is analyzed, and anything in between.”

  • Speaking on the inclusion of AI in health care, Dr. Nadeem Zafar said, “AI is here, and it’s going to keep developing ... The point is not to be afraid of these technologies, but to triage them to the best use for our medical and health care needs.”

This latest collaboration between the Big Tech giant and the US DOD will benefit the medical community and add to the existing 13 ARMs in the world. What do you think of Google’s partnership to create an Augmented Reality Microscope? Do you think it will inspire other technology giants to follow suit and dip their toes into healthcare technology?

Let us know in the comments below!

First published on Tue, Sep 19, 2023

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