Google has revealed an Augmented Reality-powered microscope prototype, that is capable of detecting cancer in human tissues in real time. During the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago on 16th April 2018, the company showcased the prototype, developed by a team of researchers. According to Google, it can save millions of lives across the world, as it can help accelerate and democratize the adoption of deep learning tools for pathologists around the world.
The prototype is a modified light microscope. It processes real-time image analysis and presents the results of ML algorithms directly into the field of view.
The microscope reconstructed into existing light microscopes using affordably available components. It doesn’t require the analysis of the whole slide digital versions of the tissue.
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In an official blog post, Google Brain Team’s Martin Stumpe (Technical Lead) and Craig Mermel (Product Manager) wrote, “In principle, the ARM can provide a wide variety of visual feedback, including text, arrows, contours, heatmaps or animations, and is capable of running many types of machine learning algorithms aimed at solving different problems such as object detection, quantification or classification.”
The blog post also stated, “At Google, we have also published results showing that a convolutional neural network is able to detect breast cancer metastases in lymph nodes at a level of accuracy comparable to a trained pathologist.”
Direct tissue visualization using a compound light microscope is the predominant means by which a pathologist diagnoses illness. A critical barrier to the widespread adoption of deep learning in pathology is the dependence on having a digital representation of the microscopic tissue.
Moreover, a vast range of pre-trained models will be able to run on this platform. It is allowed by modern computational components and deep learning models like the ones built on open source software.
Google’s AR Microscope: Two Kinds Of Cancer Detection Algorithms
The microscope has been configured to run two different kinds of cancer detection algorithms. One algorithm detects breast cancer metastases in lymph node specimens. The other algorithm detects prostate cancer in prostatectomy specimens.
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According to Google, the prototypes have performed quite well on the ARM with no additional re-training. Although, both the prototypes were originally programmed on images from a whole slide scanner with different optical configuration.
The company believes that the AR-powered microscope will have a large impact on global health. Moreover, it will save a lot of lives in developing countries.