Doctors Use Microsoft Kinect To Interface With Patients And Equipment
February 13, 2013

Microsoft’s Kinect Could Save America $30 Billion In Healthcare Costs

Michael Harper for — Your Universe online

Once again, Microsoft´s Kinect 3D system is proving to be far more powerful than a simple video game controller. Since it´s release, the Kinect system has been used to create 3D models, steer and guide a driverless robot car and deliver realistic, 3D  videoconferencing.

For its next trick, the Microsoft Kinect controller will save the United States of America´s healthcare system a whopping $30 billion by allowing doctors to meet and interact with patients remotely.

In the latest issue of the International Journal of Electronic Finance, Janet Bailey of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock explains how her work with Bradley Jensen of the Irving, Texas branch of Microsoft will bring doctors and patients closer together, even if they´re thousands of miles apart.

Since Microsoft is a partner in this venture, it only makes sense they suggest some of their own goods.

Therefore, the team claims doctors armed with a laptop, Kinect, Azure connection and an Office 365 account will be able to safely and efficiently meet with their patients, all while saving tens of thousands of dollars.

“The Kinect allows doctors to control the system without breaking the sterile field via hand gestures and voice commands with a goal of reducing the direct cost of healthcare associated infections to hospitals and patients,” the team explained in a statement.

This isn´t the first time the Kinect has been asked to lend a hand in hospitals, of course. In 2011, Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Canada began using the video game controller as a hands-free controller. Ever concerned with cleanliness and sterility, surgeons are able to pull up and manipulate images on a computer with gestures, saving them from having to actually touch a keyboard, mouse or screen. The Kinect system was shown to be quite accurate as well, detecting the correct gestures 92.6 percent of the time.

Medical startup Applied Dexterity is currently taking on the popular da Vinci surgical robot with their smaller and cheaper alternative, the Raven. At the University of Washington lab where it´s currently being tested, the Raven is hooked up to a Kinect controller which creates a real-time 3D map of the surgical area for the Raven to refer to as it´s working.

This team aims to solve a common problem when administering healthcare. In order for medical experts to treat their patients, they must first be able to reach them. In many places around the world, this major hurdle may never be overcome, leaving many untreated and left to suffer their diseases. With the Microsoft setup mentioned earlier, doctors would be able to meet these patients in their home, effectively being in two places at one time.

This new system is not without its own set of issues, of course. While being able to meet patients remotely offers a powerful option to healthcare professionals, it´s limited by one major factor: Bandwidth. This University of Arkansas and Microsoft team have taken the matter of bandwidth into consideration and have demonstrated how well the system works, even in areas with spotty coverage and unreliable connections. The proposed system allows audio and video to work apart from one another. Likewise, image sharing also works separately from these two mechanisms, meaning if one part of the system fails due to a poor connection, the other 2 should continue to operate normally.

The team has decided to call this new system CAMI, or Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images.

In closing, the team said CAMI is “not anticipated to be a panacea to the telemedicine environment but it is a powerful tool that can be affordable in virtually any community that has existing technology and communication infrastructure.”