To give its sales representatives a surgeon’s-eye view into a procedure, Smith+Nephew aims to outfit clinicians with smart glasses that will allow the company to provide assistance without needing to be present in the operating room.
Through a multi-year partnership with Rods&Cones, maker of the head-mounted medical cameras, Smith+Nephew aims to begin with a launch in the U.K. focusing on minimally invasive surgery, with plans to eventually offer technical support and real-time troubleshooting for its products from anywhere in the world.
According to the Amsterdam-based Rods&Cones, by connecting representatives with surgeons and nurses remotely, companies can observe three times as many procedures per day. The system can also be used by medical students to get an up-close look at a live operation.
The developer previously began working with Medtronic in 2019 and 2020, including during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide the headset to a select number of hospitals in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, with an eye toward maintaining a presence during cardiovascular procedures.
Rods&Cones has also been working with the orthopedic surgery company Pixee Medical, which has been developing its own smart glasses solution for total knee replacements.
Using an augmented reality program linked with the headset’s cameras, Pixee’s Knee+ system helps the surgeon correctly align their instruments, while measuring and adjusting the angles of the joint in real-time. The high-tech approach was cleared by the FDA in April 2021, while Rods&Cones aims to provide remote connectivity on top of that.
Like in many areas of life, the COVID-19 pandemic forced surgeons and device sales representatives to find a way to carry on in a safer, socially distant manner. In 2020, other companies offering digital connections for the operating room saw opportunities to grow—such as Avail Medsystems, which raised $100 million in a venture capital round that year for its approach, which featured a dedicated, portable console with remote-controlled cameras on robotic arms.