Augmedics gets $8.3M to bring AR to spine surgery

By Jonah Comstock
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Yokneam, Israel-based Augmedics, a company building augmented reality glasses for surgeons, has raised $8.3 million in new funding. AO Invest, the investment arm of surgeon-led nonprofit the AO Foundation, co-led the round with the Israeli Innovation Authority. Other contributions came from Terra Venture Partners and additional undisclosed investors.

Not to be confused with fellow AR-focused startup Augmedix (which uses Google Glass to enable remote scribes), Augmedics is a hardware company creating its own wearable for surgeons — specifically spine surgeons. The device, called ViZOR, projects an image of the patient's internal anatomy in 3D over their view of the patient, giving the effect of "x-ray vision". 

"The ViZOR System brings disruptive augmented reality technology to spine surgeries to increase safety and enhance surgical performance,” Nissan Elimelech, CEO of Augmedics, said in a statement. “Augmedics designed The ViZOR to give surgeons the first-time opportunity to actually see inside a patients’ anatomy, providing valuable real-time information in a comfortable and intuitive manner.”

The company plans to use this funding to continue developing the device and to run pre-clinical and clinical trials in preparation for an eventual FDA submission.

In the future, if the company's plans pan out, the device will also be able to deliver alerts, suggestions, and status readouts to surgeons in action based on data from sensors on the device.

Augmedics' most direct competitor is probably Scopis Medical, which is also using augmented reality to improve spinal surgery. By donning a pair of Microsoft HoloLens glasses, surgeons using Scopis' system can see a 3D overlay of the pre-planned positioning of screws, allowing the surgeon to interactively align their instruments with the holographic visualization and find the proper location more quickly. Additionally, surgeons can keep their eye on the operative field, and they can also use gestures to place virtual monitors onto their visual field.