The day starts early for Nadine Hachach-Haram, a London-based surgeon and founder of Proximie, a developer of augmented reality tools for surgery. After getting her three children ready for school, Hachach-Haram calls her team of developers in Beirut, then heads into the operating room. When she’s done, she gets in touch with her co-founder Talal Ali Ahmad, who heads Proximie’s office in Boston.
Augmented reality overlays digital images onto the real world. The most high-profile example of the technology is Pokémon Go!
Hachach-Haram is applying augmented reality to provide remote consultation to doctors around the world with limited resources. “We needed to find a way for technology to democratize access to surgery and really crowdsource all that knowledge into one place where we can all benefit from it,” she says.
With Proximie, a sensor overlays images of the consulting surgeon’s hand onto a video of the patient via, say, an iPad, to guide doctors through surgery in real time. For example, they can see where to make an incision.
Hachach-Haram is not the first to use augmented reality in the operating room. U.S.-based Medsights Tech develops augmented reality software for oncologists. In January 2017, Dutch giant Philips announced a similar tool for spinal and cranial surgery.
Since its launch last year, Proximie grabbed headlines when a doctor in Beirut led surgeons in Gaza through reconstructive surgery.
The application is also being used at University College London to teach medical students. During lessons, students can watch surgeries on the app without crowding into operating theaters. Companies that sell medical devices use Proximie for training purposes. Hachach-Haram says the startup gets its revenue from companies and universities.
Competition is heating up: London-based Touch Surgery, founded by surgeon Jean Nehme, announced that its content would be available through augmented reality headsets, simulating surgery to guide surgeons.