For thousands of years, microscopes have allowed scientists, doctors, and lab professionals to view enlarged images of small objects, cells, bacteria, and other agents that cannot be seen by the naked eye, for the purpose of analysis and examination. Since the invention of the first microscope around 1590, these devices have come a long way, allowing for varying levels of magnifying power and producing images of different types and resolutions. The “world’s most advanced microscope” is said to be able to probe the spaces between atoms.
But microscopes – specifically modern research ones called compound microscopes – remain largely analog devices.
Augmentiqs, an Israeli startup founded in 2016 and based in the northern city of Misgav, seeks to bring microscopes into the modern millennium by turning these medical instruments into augmented reality (AR) devices that will allow for smart, real-time digital pathology.
Pathology is the branch of medical science that involves the study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of certain aspects of the body. The microscope is still the instrument of choice for pathologists.
For digital pathology, a sub-field of pathology that focuses on data management based on information generated from digitized specimen slides, virtual microscopy – posting microscope image on, and transmitting them over, computer networks – is the preferred method of examination.
More specifically, Augmentiqs’ digital pathology solution embraces and enhances the existing microscope, helping pathologists work more effectively, connect remotely with colleagues, and conduct groundbreaking research, the company says.
Augmentiqs’ system is integrated into an existing microscope, connecting it to a PC and transforming it into a smart interactive device that offers a cost-effective alternative to digital pathology, according to the company. This enables real-time examination through the augmented projection of what the microscope eyepiece actually sees.
For pathologists, the platform drastically improves what microscopes have to offer to generate a pathology that is cheaper, faster, and more accurate.
“We came up with a low-cost solution for a digital microscope that doesn’t change the microscope, but enhances it, by providing capabilities of a computer straight to the microscope,” Siegel explains.
From traditional tech to ‘smart’ tech
Siegel says it was the level of distrust he experienced from pathologists at trade shows while working for a different digital pathology company that made him realize digital pathology tech needed to be improved.
Augmentiqs system combined with traditional microscope. Courtesy
“A pathologist comes over and says, ‘In 90 percent of instances, I don’t need you. And in 10 percent, I don’t trust you.’ It was experiences like these that made us realize that the digital pathology tech out there doesn’t fit the needs of the pathologists,” Siegel tells NoCamels.
Augmentiqs sought to revolutionize the digital pathology industry.