While most of us wouldn't feel comfortable going under the knife if a video game accessory is performing the surgery, graduate students at the University of Washington say it could actually make the process easier and safer.
A group of students decided to use Kinect's motion-aware technology to aid in the process of robotic surgery. An increasingly common practice, robotic surgery lets doctors perform complex medical procedures by placing remote-controlled surgical instruments inside the patient. They then control the instruments remotely with a special controller, and watch everything on a monitor.
What the process lacks, though, is any sort of tactile feedback. That is, if the instruments hit a bone or anything, the doctor won't feel it. He has to go based on what he sees on the monitor.
By incorporating Kinect, though, the students were able to literally create a map of the inside of a human's body, which would allow a surgeon to have a much better idea of where exactly he is at all times, and whether or not there is anything solid in the immediate vicinity.
What's interesting about this project is it was not designed for use with Kinect. Originally, said student Fredrik Ryden, it called for almost $50,000 in development costs. But by using the Kinect instead, he was able to write the program's code in just one weekend.
Of course, this is just a prototype. Most of us aren't big enough to handle having a Kinect camera inside our bodies. But you gotta admit it's pretty cool.
Jan 20, 2011
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