Microsoft’s Kinect Being Used for Surgery?

Posted on March 29, 2011 at 10:08 pm by Donna Warren

I thought I had heard of everything but using Microsoft’s Xbox 360 with Kinect the direct surgical robots is a first. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing … it just sounds like something out of Star Trek. But, in case you didn’t know, a lot of our techie gadgets we take for granted were first described on Star Trek. According to the CEO of Motorola, who appeared on the program, “How Star Trek Changed Science”, our cell phones were designed to function like the communicators used on that show.

Anyway graduate engineering student at the University of Washington are using the Kinect to the movements of surgical robots. It seems that the kinect solved a problem they have been working on for years… namely how to perform operations too small for human hands.

They expect the kinect’s force feedback technology to provide the surgeon with the one thing today’s surgical robots cannot provide … a sense of touch. According to Howard Chizeck, UW professor of electrical engineering, “What we’re doing is using that sense of touch to give information to the surgeon, like ‘You don’t want to go here.'” The new technology will let the surgeon know if he accidentally bumps against an exposed vein which should help prevent later complications.

“It’s really good for demonstration because it’s so low-cost, and because it’s really accessible,” said Ryden, who designed the system. “You already have drivers, and you can just go in there and grab the data. It’s really easy to do fast prototyping because Microsoft’s already built everything.” The team says that without Kinect the project would have cost approximately $50,000.

A team of surgeons at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto have used a kinect sensor in actual surgery to save time because they can call up and manipulate complex images immediately. Before they had to leave the operating room and re-sterilize before coming back in to resume surgery.

Way to go guys!

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