Microsoft plans to officially release a PC software development kit for the Xbox 360 add-on Kinect this spring, but already, amateur tinkerers have been using the camera-based motion-sensing peripheral in ways that extend well beyond games. Following on from the flying Quadrotor and iRobot vacuum variant, the latest inspired use for Kinect can be found in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's surgery room.
The Canadian Online Explorer reports today that Dr. Calvin Law and his team in Toronto have begun using Kinect as a way to view patient imaging data during surgery. The primary draw to Kinect is its hands-free nature, which lets Dr. Law and his associates view MRI and CT scan data while conducting surgery.
The interface was designed by University of Toronto general surgery resident and engineer Matt Strickland, with help from mechatronics engineer Jamie Tremaine and computer engineer Greg Brigley. The trio first set up the Kinect sensor on a remote computer and then connected that output to a suspended screen in the operating room. The surgeon would then make gestures recognized by Kinect to view the relevant data.
Prior to implementing the device, the surgeon would be required to leave the operating area to view the data, memorize the information, and then resterilize to continue the procedure. According to Dr. Law, he has used Kinect in six liver cancer surgeries over the past month.