Beyond Entertainment: Using Game Technology in Surgery

An article was posted last week in the Winnipeg Free Press and reposted at Gamasutra later that day about Microsoft’s Kinect platform being used to assist in surgery at the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. The Kinect is being used to allow a surgeon to manipulate images without having to touch a computer, cutting down the length of time required to perform surgeries and keeping the surgeons more focused on the task at hand.

Such innovation is possible in large part due to the release of open source drivers for the Kinect, allowing developers to legally create applications that use the technology in ways their original developers hadn’t thought of without being forced to pay huge licensing fees. This isn’t the first time the Kinect has drawn attention to itself with its ability to allow users to interact with computers wirelessly and intuitively, nor is the Kinect alone.

Kanav Kahol developed a modification for the Wii controller several years ago that allows it to be used as a laparoscopic surgical trainer. He presented his Wii modification at IMSH2010 with great success and sent graduate student Aaron Ashby to this year’s IMSH2011 Serious Games Arcade to demonstrate the actual product. The controller was a lot of fun to play with as well as being a great tool for improving hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.