How to hack Radiology software with Microsoft Kinect


Radiology has transformed into a core subject of medicine, since imaging procedures are getting more and more crucial to clinical decisions. Whether these developments, be it over-diagnosing or unnecessary radiation on the one hand or a more detailed and enhanced way of diagnostics on the other, are worth a blog post alone. However, Radiology usually also attracts rather tech-savvy physicians and continuious innovation in this field ensures that new devices and imagine techniques occur more rapidly.

Researchers at the University of Bern, from a “Virtual Autopsy Group” called Virtopsy, have now transformed the widely used image viewing software PACS to hook it up with an ordnary $99 Microsoft Kinect device. For all those of you who have never heard of the Kinect let me explain briefly. Much like Nintendo’s WII, the Kinect is an add-on for the game console XBoX. Once you hook it up with your XBox and TV set, the area in front of the TV will be “scanned” by the Kinect’s infrared sensor (actually multiple of those). It creates an (invisible) 3D sphere of the room you are in and is therefore able to track and recognize movements within this area very precicesly.

In contrast to the WII console, Kinect does not require any sort of controller. The controller is you. By moving your arms, hands and your entire body you control the game. If you jump, the avatar in the game you are playing will be jumping.

Thus for $99 you’ll get an extremely powerful device with lots of gaming fun. As the researchers showed it can also be used in a more meaningful way.

Whereas Radiology has strongly evolved over the past decades, interaction with images has not. Radiologists still tap on foot switches in the operating room, hi-res flat screens and projectors are used for going through individual cases. Those have been proven ways to deal with images, yet they also entail several disadvantages. The lack of sterility and infectious contamination possibility are among the biggest problems.

Watch the embedded video below how the researchers hooked up the Micrcosoft Kinect with a wireless headset and CT/MR viewing software OsiriX PACS. Window views, depth browsing, width adjustment and other core radiological techniques are being performed solely by voice and hand movements.

How cool is that?


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