Augmented reality headsets are coming to orthopedic surgery |

Augmented reality headsets are coming to orthopedic surgery

London startup developing holographic surgery headsets has raised $20m (£15m) from the backers of Facebook’s Oculus headset.

Touch Surgery, founded by two former surgeons, plans to use the funds to launch an “augmented reality” tool that trains medics on the finer points of surgery. Wearing a Microsoft Hololens headset, they would see a live video feed of a professional surgeon, overlaid with virtual guides to how the surgery is performed.

The funding was led by US venture capital firm 8VC, a San Francisco fund whose founders invested in Oculus VR before Facebook acquired it for $2bn in 2014.

It brings Touch Surgery’s total raised to $30m, following previous backing from London venture fund Balderton Capital.

Touch Surgery was founded in 2013 and its current app provides video tutorials of hundreds for surgical procedures.

The new tool, Go Surgery, would be designed to give trainees a hands-on view of surgery with step by step guides holographically projected onto the screen. Medical training is seen as one of the most promising areas for augmented reality, slashing the cost of existing training.

Go Surgery is set to launch in 2018 following the success of its app and following testing at hospitals in the UK and US.

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Touch Surgery co-founder Dr Jean Nehme said: “We found that tens of thousands of people were downloading the app. We started out trying to build a technology that we would use. We wanted to know how we could train and perform surgery better.

“It is early days for this technology but we are very bullish on how augmented reality and virtual reality are going to be key technologies in the operating room of the future.”

Touch Surgery is using its funding to boost staff numbers to around 200, split between London and New York, with around 40 new recruits in the coming weeks. Its workforce features a mix of medical professionals, programmers and graphic designers from the likes of Pixar.

The company has also made use of Apple’s bid to bring augmented reality mainstream, updating the Touch Surgery app with ARKit to let surgeons use their iPhone or iPad to project lifelike recreations of surgery over the real world.

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