Support in stressful situations: Philippe Ganz and his partners at aiEndoscopic are developing an intubation aid for emergency physicians and anesthetists.
In the course of the corona pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about artificial respiration. Does your project have to do with COVID-19, Mr. Ganz?
Not directly. Around 50 million intubations take place worldwide every year. COVID-19 patients are only a small percentage of that. The fact is, however, that complications can occur in more than five percent of tube insertions. Professor Peter Biro from the University Hospital Zurich (USZ) therefore had the idea of developing a device that would help medical professionals in performing intubations. He came to the ETH and was able to get my former fellow student David Gage from the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems on board.
How did you become a member of the team?
After completing my studies, I worked in quality assurance for a medtech company, but I had felt for a long time that corporate life did not suit me. David’s spin-off idea came at just the right time.
How should a layperson imagine aiEndoscopic’s solution?
Our endoscope consists of a shaft with a deflectable head and a camera on the tip. You insert REALITI into the patient’s mouth and control it with a joystick.
The ‘AI’ in the company name stands for artificial intelligence. Where is it used?
The computer vision algorithm makes REALITI unique. Our software can interpret the images from the camera in real time. When the intubating person presses the “Auto Mode” button, the tip of the endoscope automatically aligns with the windpipe. That makes the whole process easy and safe.
REALITI is not yet approved. How do you train the AI algorithms?
The USZ’s innovation hub will help us over the coming months to collect videos of larynxes and breathing tubes for training. This is what makes Zurich so unique as an innovation hub: Anyone with a good idea receives support from all sides.