Navigation technology is changing the clinical standards in medical interventions by making existing procedures more accurate, and new procedures possible. Navigation is based on preoperative or intraoperative imaging combined with 3-dimensional position tracking of interventional tools registered to the images. Research of navigation technology in medical interventions requires significant engineering efforts. The difficulty of developing such complex systems has been limiting the clinical translation of new methods and ideas. A key to the future success of this field is to provide researchers with platforms that allow rapid implementation of applications with minimal resources spent on reimplementing existing system features. A number of platforms have been already developed that can share data in real time through standard interfaces. Complete navigation systems can be built using these platforms using a layered software architecture. In this paper, we review the most popular platforms, and show an effective way to take advantage of them through an example surgical navigation application.