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News Europe

The touchless interaction software was developed by Dr Gerardo Gonzalez from Lancaster University, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research. (Photograph: Lancaster University)
Jul 18, 2014 | News Europe

Touchless technology to benefit neurosurgeons

by Surgical Tribune

LANCASTER, UK: After the successful trial of a novel technology in vascular surgery procedures, a team from Lancaster and Microsoft has now partnered with neurosurgeons to apply the technology to the manipulation of 3-D volumetric models of the brain for neurosurgery. The pioneering work explores the use of touchless interaction in surgical settings, enabling surgeons to view, control and manipulate medical images without contact.

Drs Mark Rouncefield and Gerardo Gonzalez from the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University were part of the collaborative team from Microsoft Research, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust , and King’s College London that piloted the technology in the operating theatre.

Rouncefield said, “This project on touchless interaction has successfully combined the skills and knowledge of social and computer scientists with the professional experience of surgeons, to design and develop an application that is already proving of real benefit in the operating theatre.”

Surgeons operate in a challenging environment where they are required to maintain sterility at all times. Re-scrubbing is time-consuming and therefore surgeons are frequently compelled to instruct others to manipulate visual aid equipment for them, which is an often impractical and imprecise method.

The new gesture-based systems utilise Kinect for Windows hardware and the Kinect for Windows software development kit to allow the surgery teams to maintain a sterile environment, while being able to view and manipulate medical images through a combination of gesture and voice control.

Prof. Kenton O’Hara from Microsoft Research said, “Adapting the technology for neurosurgery has allowed us to understand how the system works across different surgical domains. As well as refining the gesture set, the new system incorporates enhanced voice control that enables the surgeon to control the system using only voice, leaving both hands free to work with surgical instruments.”

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