Augmented reality (AR) applications in health and wellness abound. From helping the blind navigate to gamifying interaction for people on the autism spectrum to helping people with Parkinson’s Disease, AR is there. When you can supplement real-world visualizations with controlled graphic content, AR can be a powerful tool.

Leica Microsystems recently took AR another big step into the surgical suite. Leica’s Glow800 augmented reality uses high-contrast fluorescence to create real-time, multispectral color visualization of vascular flow and anatomy. Leica’s technology does more than earlier fluorescence surgical aids. The first units were able to visualize blood flow or anatomy, but not both at the same time and only in black and white. The FDA gave the Leica AR system 510(k) clearance for use in vascular neurosurgery. Using multispectral color visualization – assigning colors to different parts and blood flow – Leica claims surgeons can work more confidently because they have an enhanced view of the area.

With FDA clearance for GLOW800, Leica intends to work closely with neurosurgeons to explore additional uses for the technology. GLOW AR surgical support tools can now be integrated with the company’s ARveo digital augmented reality microscope. The ARveo microscope is an augmented neurosurgical decision support instrument. To the extent that Leica’s first step with AR surgical aids results in measurably improved patient outcomes, we’ll likely see many more AR medical applications.