Google has struck a deal with Johnson & Johnson that will see the company make robots to assist in surgery.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the world's biggest operating room equipment manufacturers, and the partnership could see a huge change in how surgery is conducted.
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, however, the deal is between Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, and Google's Life Sciences division, and the goal is to develop a robot-assisted surgical platform.
"For more than 60 years, Ethicon has developed products and technologies that have transformed the way surgery is done," said Gary Pruden, worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson's Global Surgery Group. "This collaboration with Google is another important step in our commitment to advancing surgical care, and together, we aim to put the best science, technology and surgical know-how in the hands of medical teams around the world."
Google has bought a number of robotics companies over the years, however the deal reportedly does not involve the use of these, but rather the use of Google's machine and image analysis software, with an aim of helping surgeons be able to see much more clearly during operations.
Ethicon has decades of experience in creating tools and equipment for surgeons, however it has only thought about using robots in recent times. Both Google and Ethicon acknowledge that the deal is in its very early stages and that anything that they come up with will need regulatory approval.
The deal is actually the product of somewhat of a coincidence. As it turns out, a surgeon from Johnson & Johnson Innovation lives near a Google employee and mentioned to him that Ethicon was working on expanding options for surgeons. This resulted in continued discussions, eventually leading to collaboration.
One example of how the two companies could work together is by Google's image analysis being able to highlight things like nerves, blood vessels and tumors that are not supposed to be there.
Google Life Sciencies is part of Google's Google X division and employs around 100 doctors and scientists. The division is aimed at changing medicine.
Google X has been responsible for a number of very interesting and public experiments over the past few years, with products like Google Glass and Project Ara coming straight from the division of Google.
This is, of course, not the first step that Google has taken into the medical world. Last year, it launched Google Genomics, a specific division of Google. The division has created an API specifically to store and share DNA sequencing information using its cloud infrastructure.