The advent of MRI scanning has ushered in many improvements in the medical field: faster, more accurate diagnoses of patient ailments, insight into mental health, and increased excellence in the operating room, to name a few. Surgeons in North America commonly use a computer workstation in the OR in order to be able to review images and medical records while operating.
But, while having access to MRI images during surgery is undeniably an advantage in the OR, the process is still in need of streamlining. Computers–the keyboard and mouse specifically–are difficult to keep sterilized and increase the likelihood of a potential spread of bacteria, making the surgeon’s usage of the computer station during surgery a risk. Furthermore, asking a nurse or assistant to scroll through the appropriate images usually slows down the surgical process, especially when directions are misunderstood and need to be repeated.
The solution may be found in new technology that uses a camera with the ability to sense 3D space; the camera, developed by Microsoft, was originally used in video games that could track the movements of a player’s hands.
Researchers at Purdue University are currently at work devising a program that will be able to distinguish between hand gestures made towards other doctors and nurses in the OR, and gestures made specifically towards the computer.