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Gaming The System: Image Retrieval Via Kinect

March 23, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Surgeons at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto are using the Kinect video game controller to call up and manipulate medical images during surgery.

Typically, surgeons who want to consult images such as MRI or CT scans during surgery must leave the sterile area of the operating room to access the images on a computer. Then they must scrub back in, a process that can take several minutes.

Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 allows players to control video games by means of gestures that it reads via a 3-D infrared camera. A team at Sunnybrook has adapted Kinect to allow doctors to call up and control images with hand gestures. They don’t leave the sterile area and don’t touch anything, so no scrubbing is necessary.

The Canadian Press reports that Sunnybrook surgeons have successfully used the system six times. One of the engineers who worked on it, Jamie Tremaine, said Microsoft has no problem with Kinect being put to unusual uses “as long as they’re not for video games.”

According to DOTmed News, Kinect and medicine have hooked up in at least two other ways.

At the University of Zurich in Switzerland, the Virtopsy group has been experimenting with using Kinect for no-touch control of a PACS system during virtual autopsies.

And at the University of Washington in Seattle, electrical engineering graduate student Fredrik Ryden modified Kinect to allow surgeons performing robotic surgery to have tactile feedback through the joystick.

Said Howard Chizeck, ScD, professor of electrical engineering and adjunct professor of bioengineering:

We could define basically a force field around, say, a liver. If the surgeon got too close, he would run into that force field, and it would protect the object he didn’t want to cut.

Ryden both designed the system and wrote the code over a single weekend. “It’s really good for demonstration because it’s so low-cost and because it’s readily accessible,” he told The Daily, the university’s student paper. “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.”

Without Kinect, creating such a system would have cost about $50,000, Dr. Chizeck estimated. Amazon is currently selling the top-of-the-line 250-gigabyte Xbox 360 with Kinect for $399.99.

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2 Responses to “Gaming The System: Image Retrieval Via Kinect”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Game Controller Helps With Virtual Autopsies on July 8th, 2011 at 10:03 am

    […] Surgeons at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto have already begun using Kinect to consult images from MRI or CT scans during surgery, as we reported in March. […]

  2. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Hands-Free OR Image Retrieval Gets Smarter on January 14th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    […] Ever since Microsoft introduced the Kinect for Xbox 360, a 3-D infrared camera designed to control video games by means of gestures, tinkerers have been experimenting with medical uses, as we’ve reported. […]