Researchers continue to use open-source PC drivers
for Microsoft's Kinect 3D camera controller to adapt the hardware for new purposes, with one Toronto hospital now using the device to help surgeons manipulate medical images during surgery without the need for time-wasting clean-up.
Surgeons often have to leave the sterile environment around a patient to pull up necessary medical scan images on a computer, a process that can require up to 20 minutes of clean up each time before the surgeon can return to the operation.
But the Winnipeg Free Press reports
that a team at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital has set up a Kinect sensor to allow surgeons to access, rotate and zoom in on such images without leaving the operating room or touching a computer, eliminating the need for cleanings that can delay an operation by up to an hour altogether.
While surgeons sometimes direct medical assistants to do such image manipulation for them, such a setup is "always a little troublesome because of communication," surgical oncologist Dr. Calvin Law told the Free Press.
Besides the time savings -- which could allow hospitals to cut costs by performing more operations per day, Law said -- the Kinect-powered method requires less disruption to the operation and keeps the surgeon more focused on the task at hand, according to Law.
So far, the system has been used in six surgeries, and the team of engineers that set it up is hoping to extend its use to other hospitals soon, according to the Free Press.
University of Minnesota researchers have been adapting the Kinect
to help automate and objectify the observation and diagnosis of many childhood disorders.