5G Ultra Wideband and the future of medical imaging: A Q&A with Medivis

Medical procedures once thought to be too risky are now routine. The operating theater, once a destination of last resort, is now a hive of pre-emptive life-saving activity. Despite all this, doctors must still rely on anatomical landmarks, prior experience and intuition in their surgical interventions.

Dr. Christopher Morley, however, has a radical idea: What if doctors could see through their patients? Such “superpowers,” as he calls them, could help reduce or even eliminate guesswork before the first incision is made. It may sound more like magic than science, but Dr. Morley and his partner, Dr. Osamah Choudhry, are ushering in a new era of healthcare transparency with Medivis, their medical visualization company.

As one of the startups selected to work in Verizon's first 5G Lab, Medivis has access to the blistering network speeds and ultra-low latency of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband. With this network backbone, Medivis can not only create rich, ultrahigh fidelity holographic 3D anatomical renderings that can be studied from every angle—and even projected onto the body in the OR—but potentially share them remotely over a Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband connection in near-real time.

Here, Morley explains how Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is helping his team rethink how care will be administered—with an ultimate goal of bringing patients and providers closer together.

How might you describe the promise of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband to someone who has never heard of it?

Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband gives devices superpowers. More specifically in the healthcare realm, the potential of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity and augmented reality throughout healthcare is truly limitless. It will enable immersive collaboration between doctors and patients both face-to-face and in remote locations. It will fundamentally transform how we train our students, the future caregivers. It will raise the bar of the entire profession, making it far more integrated and personalized. Innovations like this have been a long time coming.

Ultimately, Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is an open invitation not simply to change how we do certain things but to fundamentally rethink how to do all of it. This includes the connection between patient and caregiver. While some new technologies are pushing patients and providers further apart, Verizon 5G represents an enormous coming together. And in healthcare, bringing pieces together, making things simpler, is one and the same with making them safer.

How did you first learn of the Verizon 5G Lab, and more specifically the opportunity to utilize Verizon 5G?

The Verizon 5G Lab organizes events to connect people interested in solving real-world problems with their emerging technologies. My partner Osamah and I were honored to take part in a panel discussion on the future of artificial intelligence and medical imaging about 18 months ago. We were able to talk candidly about the promise of AR in healthcare, as well as the current limitations, which led to further discussion about how we could work together to overcome those with the power of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband.

Medivis’ technology is brand new, and it needs a lot of love. The environment at the Verizon 5G Lab has been instrumental in cultivating it, and in bringing the community together. By combining our powers with other innovators, we can actually push our technology further. That type of cross-pollination is hard to make happen on your own. Verizon has worked very hard to create that environment, and we’re the result.

At its core, what does Medivis allow doctors to do that they can’t do today?

Medical imaging data like CT and MRI scans have always been visualized, understood and acted on through the use of flat 2D monitors. This has inherent limitations given the nuances of complex 3D anatomy, particularly during critical procedures. Even when we’re able to utilize 3D renderings, they usually take the form of static 3D-printed molds, or require bulky, impractical VR headsets.

[Medivis’] mission has always been to improve surgical decision-making, workflow efficiency and patient outcomes through the use of AR and AI. 5G Ultra Wideband has emboldened this vision because speed and latency limitations can now be overcome.
Dr. Christopher Morley

Co-Founder
Medivis

The mission of Medivis is to leverage emerging technologies, principally augmented reality, computer vision and machine learning, to bring fuller connectivity to the practice of medicine by advancing the idea of portable, easy-to-use surgical navigation.

When you can actually superimpose the data directly onto the patient, you close all the literal and figurative gaps. A doctor’s intuition will always be a vital part of surgery, but to be able to complement that intuition in this manner, that’s powerful.

Can you paint some of the benefits of offloading compute power from medical equipment to the network “edge?”

AR displays, like all mobile devices, are relatively underpowered in terms of GPU processing and computer graphics capabilities. Given the size of medical imaging datasets and the interactive frame rates that must be maintained—more than 60 frames per second—you need a high-speed, low-latency network to offload the computing power to enable high-fidelity holographic renderings.

The portability enabled by edge compute means we can perform complex procedures at the bedside. It will also open up the opportunity for holographic sharing and real-time collaboration between multiple users, near or far. These were unheard-of ideas previously. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is going to have an enormous impact on all of healthcare.

This is really where the technology hits another gear—in the ability to look at the raw data from the CT and MRI scanners in an objective way, as it truly is. We’re talking 100 million voxels in space—the highest fidelity possible—so we’re not making any estimations. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband not only will make that a reality, it also allows us to leverage that processing power at the edge, directly on a wireless AR headset.

Has your understanding of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband evolved at all since gaining access to it?

Our mission has always been to improve surgical decision-making, workflow efficiency and patient outcomes through the use of AR and AI. Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband has emboldened this vision because speed and latency limitations can now be overcome.

There wasn’t necessarily any “Eureka!” moment, just a lot of patience and commitment to the process. Eventually, using Verizon 5G, we got to the point where we could take a patient’s scan and render it holographically in under 20 seconds—and not just quickly, but accurately as well. Once that was possible, we started envisioning its use in the operating room and saw the difference it will make. Our research is ongoing, but the possibilities are endless, and Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband has been incredibly important in pushing our work forward.

Where does Medivis’ work go from here?

The job that surgeons do is impossibly hard at times. If any technology can reduce their guesswork, it must be pursued. It has to be adapted. It has to flourish and be scalable. That diligence and commitment to increased precision can save lives. We exist in this powerful intersection between technology and humanity. There aren’t many industries that can say that, but Verizon understood it immediately. 

We’re now doing a transatlantic experiment, and have learned the round-trip latency from New York to London is less than 74 milliseconds. That is really an incredible number. Those kinds of speeds will enable everything from immersive telemedicine to robotic telesurgery.

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