It is clear that VR and AR will ultimately be an irreplaceable tool in medicine. That does not mean we shouldn’t celebrate every move forward, especially a big one. Such a stride is coming out of Novarad HoloLens collaboration, who give us the OpenSight AR system, the first ever FDA approved Augmented Reality pre-surgical imaging tool.

Novarad is old news. Operating for over 30 years, the healthcare provider has delivered some truly cutting edge technology is the medical imaging space. Their newest patent dubbed The Opensight runs on AR technology to render 2D, 3D, and 4D patient images that help doctors plan the surgery ahead more thoroughly. The testament to the tool’s utility comes from none other than FDA, who certified it with 510(k) clearance. Doctors can now use Microsoft HoloLens for specific, pre-operative purposes.

The OpenSight AR System allows doctors to follow dual side-by-side image, both of patients as is, and their internals. ‘This is transformative technology’, Novarad CEO Dr. Wendell Gibby claims, ‘that will unite preoperative imaging with Augmented Reality to improve the precision, speed, and safety of medical procedures’. No doubt it will, given the system’s ease of use.

First Augmented Reality System for Microsoft HoloLens Cleared by FDA for Surgical UseOpenSight AR proves game-changing for the fact that doctors can now have a full brief of patients’ internals before the first cut. Or ‘the internal visualization can now be achieved without the surgeon ever making an incision, improving outcomes in a world of more precise medicine’, as Gibby has it. It is the precision bit that takes over. The system renders co-localized patient images that highlight the critical points in their anatomy. There are several guidance systems in place too, making the surgery planning more convenient that it’s ever been.

The OpenSight System can only be run on Microsoft HoloLens headset. The use of AR instead of VR is telling. VR has proven its merit in medical (surgical) training programs, but has a fatal flaw when used pre or during operative process. It is the nature of VR to replace reality rather than boost it. AR tech proves a useful, if not the only possibility, in that it is not cancelling the real-world data – the patient is still there – while overlaying useful additional info. Not to mention the disorientation one feels when fully immersed into VR. AR is defined as overlay of virtual info on real-world template, meaning that the surroundings, and therefore the attachment to it, is still present.

Novarad has also released the teaching version of OpenSight AR system to ease the medical students into the future. Students or other surgery attendees can witness the AR preparation first-hand, since the HoloLens experience can be shared among multiple headsets. No doubt FDA recognized Novarad’s efforts by clearing the OpenSight system for use. It is a complete medical package, designed to improve the precision and utility of medical practice. That, and to bring us a step closer towards a more realized AR future.