In collaboration with the Department of Defense, Google has developed a prototype of an "Augmented Reality Microscope" (ARM), which uses artificial intelligence to overlay real-time visual indicators such as heatmaps or object boundaries. This AI technology is designed to simplify sample classification and detect cancer cells or pathogens. The ARM, first introduced to the public in 2018, currently has 13 prototypes and is yet to be used for patient diagnosis. Significant testing is still required before it can be used by regular clinicians. However, Google plans to design a system that can be incorporated into existing light microscopes in hospitals and clinics. These ARM-enabled microscopes could offer various visual feedback, including text, arrows, contours, heatmaps, or animations, each tailored to specific assessment objectives.
The Defense Innovation Unit of the Department of Defense has reportedly brokered deals with Google to facilitate the distribution of ARM through the military, says CNBC. The hope is that ARM will be accessible to certain government users by this fall. It's projected that ARM will cost between $90,000 and $100,000, a price likely out of reach for local health providers. Google has been contacted for additional information on the program's progress and potential availability timeline. Google Health has previously invested in AI-enhanced tools that not only boost diagnostic accuracy but also address gaps in medical areas with a shortage of healthcare personnel. The tech behemoth has consistently partnered with startups that use AI to advance healthcare and is estimated to have funneled over $200 billion into AI investments in the last ten years, reports Reuters. This is particularly significant given the World Health Organization's prediction of a 15 million global healthcare worker shortage by 2030.