When you think of medical imaging equipment you think of X-ray, CT Scanners and MRI equipment not Microsoft Xbox or Sony PlayStation. That may soon change however because some of the technologies most associated with video games are turning out to be surprisingly useful in the world of medical imaging.
From Xbox to X-Ray
The goal of radiographers and other trained medical imaging professionals is to produce the highest quality image possible with the least amount of radiation exposure for the patient. Keeping a patient motionless and in the proper position is imperative to successful image capture in an X-ray machine, however subtle movements often cannot be detected until the X-ray is processed. If movement is detected, the whole process must be repeated until a clear image is produced.
That’s why researchers have started using the proprietary software developed for the Microsoft Xbox Kinect system to both track movement and help properly align patients during the X-ray procedure. Currently in development and testing at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, this new Kinect based system can measure the thickness of body parts, check for motion, positioning and help align the X-ray field of view before imaging. It’s a real-time monitoring system that can alert technologists to any issues that could compromise image quality. Both cutting down on the number of X-rays needed and a patient’s exposure to radiation.
While this technology has been incorporated into the Xbox for years, its uses in the medical imaging world are quite surprising. Not only is it relatively inexpensive in comparison to many other medical devices but also the hands free interface makes its implementation into the imaging process unobtrusive and unintimidating to the patient, especially children. This new technological approach can obviously benefit all patients but a primary target is children because of their sensitivity to radiation and their greater variations in body size, ranging from infants to teenagers.
How It Works
Originally developed as a motion sensor camera and microphone array for the Xbox gaming system, Microsoft Kinect software includes both voice and facial recognition. It allows multiple individuals to play games hands-free or without a typical controller. The Kinect hardware uses an RGB camera with a depth sensor and infrared projector with a monochrome CMOS sensor that sees the environment in front of it not as a flat image but as dots arranged in a 3D environment. The software inside the system begins by creating a depth map of the viewing area using its infrared laser light projector. Next it is programmed to infer body position using a preloaded template for the human body. The software creates a digital armature of the subject locating joints and body parts. The system is capable of tracking 20 joints per subject.
To measure body part thickness technicians traditionally use metal calipers. It’s an imprecise, time-consuming process that can often be scary for children. The Kinect system is able to use its infrared sensor to measure body part thickness automatically without ever touching the patient.
While this isn’t the first time researchers have hacked the Microsoft Kinect system, this application is one of the more useful and game changing uses for the technology. If these advances can become more common in medical imaging centers across the world, they can help reduce scanning times, radiation exposure all while improving the quality of X-ray imaging and patient comfort.
As technology continues to advance there will be many opportunities for the repurposing of gear in the medical world. Whether it’s VR goggles like the Oculus Rift that can aid in training or remote surgery, or the body scanning of Kinect, researches will continue to think of new and exciting way to help improve the medical profession and patient outcomes.
As always, the team at Atlantis Worldwide is always happy to help you identify the best solution for your practice or facility. If you are looking for refurbished X-Ray equipment please Contact Us Today!
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About the author: Vikki Harmonay