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Tencent develops AI-powered smart microscope to refine cancer diagnosis

The smart microscope is the first of its kind to be allowed in clinical applications in China.

Source: Shutterstock.com

Tencent AI Lab has manufactured a smart microscope that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to better assist physicians in diagnosing cancer and other diseases, the internet giant said in an announcement on Thursday.

The smart microscope is the first device of its kind to obtain a license from the Chinese National Medical Products Administration, allowing its use for clinical applications according to the statement.

Microscopes are one of the most common tools for doctors to diagnose cancer and other diseases by observing cell samples. Traditional microscopes have a relatively limited field of view, as doctors can only see one small portion of the sample at a time via the eyepiece. Also, doctors need to manually combine different parts of the observation results before achieving a full diagnosis.

Tencent’s new smart device is able to offer real-time analysis of samples and display them in the field of view using an AI algorithm. It can also automatically record results after analyzing different areas of the sample, and provide comprehensive statistics to help doctors make more accurate diagnoses, said Tencent.

The smart microscope project is also supported by optical lens manufacturer Sunny Optical Technology, which contributes to hardware research and development, and Guangzhou-based KingMed Diagnostics, which offers its resources and expertise in pathology, says Tencent.

The Hong Kong-listed tech giant (0700) said its device can help pathologists in their work. While the demand for pathologists in China exceeds 100,000 professionals, there are only about 15,000 eligible pathologists in the country, the company added.

Other Chinese tech giants are also using AI-based tools for disease diagnosis. Alibaba’s research institute Damo Academy developed an AI-powered diagnosis system in February to detect new coronavirus cases via computerized tomography (CT) scan. The algorithm can complete the recognition process within 20 seconds, nearly 60 times faster than human detection, with an accuracy rate of up to 96%, according to Alibaba, KrASIA reported.

Only a month later, the tool, which has been deployed in more than 160 hospitals across China from its launch, was opened to global medical professionals for free to assist them in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.