Operating Kinect - The Kinect in the operating room
- Posted: May 22, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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Today's projects highlight two inspirational stories about how the Kinect might be used to help surgeons
THE surgeon enters the operating theatre, covered in sterile blue scrubs. Machines beep and hiss. Nurses wait, tools at the ready: scalpel, forceps, bandage, Xbox... Xbox?
On Tuesday last week, a surgeon at Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London began trials of a new device that uses an Xbox Kinect camera to sense body position. Just by waving his arms the surgeon can consult and sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation.
Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is paramount, but scrubbing in and out to scroll through scan images mid-operation can be time-consuming and break a surgeon's concentration or sense of flow. Depending on the type of surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. To avoid leaving the table, many surgeons rely on assistants to manipulate the computer for them, a distracting and sometimes frustrating process.
"You usually think of Kinect in a game-like scenario where you can jump around and move your hands as wide as possible, but surgeons are not allowed to reach such a large area," says Gerardo Gonzalez of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, who helped develop the system in conjunction with surgeons from Guy's and St Thomas' and King's College London.
So Gonzalez and colleagues developed a set of gestures that a surgeon can perform in a constrained space, while standing at the operating table. For the most common actions - rotating the 3D model or placing a marker on the image - the team designed one-handed gestures that combine with voice commands, leaving the other hand free for operating. To position a marker, for example, the surgeon simply points at the image to activate a cursor and says, "place marker". Other functions, such as panning or zooming, require two hands.
I’m often asked where I see Kinect going next and much like the Kinect Effect advert, I put that question back on the questioner. One of the answers I give is we see it going into more and more places outside of the living room – places like schools and hospitals. In fact in the advert, there is a brief moment where you see Kinect in an operating theater.
That’s not happening tomorrow, it’s happening today, at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto. Earlier this week, Discovery Channel Canada dropped in on Sunnybrook and got a demo of how Kinect is being used.
Project Information URL: http://blogs.technet.com/b/next/archive/2012/02/24/kinect-in-the-operating-theater.aspx