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Augmented Reality System Allows Doctors to See under Skin

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Feb 2018
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Image: The ProjectDR allows medical images to be displayed directly on a patient’s body in a way that moves as the patient does (Photo courtesy of Ampronix).
Image: The ProjectDR allows medical images to be displayed directly on a patient’s body in a way that moves as the patient does (Photo courtesy of Ampronix).
A new system, called ProjectDR, allows medical images such as CT scans and MRI data to be displayed directly on a patient’s body in a way that moves as the patient does. ProjectDR also has the capacity to present segmented images, for instance, only the lungs or only the blood vessels, depending upon what a clinician is interested in seeing.

The technology features a motion-tracking system that uses infrared cameras and markers on the patient’s body, as well as a projector to display the images. The software that allows the image to track properly on the patient’s body even as they shift and move was written by Ian Watts, a computing science graduate student at the University of Alberta (Alberta, Canada) who developed the technology with fellow graduate student Michael Fiest.

“We wanted to create a system that would show clinicians a patient’s internal anatomy within the context of the body,” said Watts. “There are lots of applications for this technology, including in teaching, physiotherapy, laparoscopic surgery and even surgical planning.”

Watts is now working on refining ProjectDR to improve the system’s automatic calibration and add components, such as depth sensors. The next step will be to test the program’s viability in a clinical setting.

“Soon, we’ll deploy ProjectDR in an operating room in a surgical simulation laboratory to test the pros and cons in real-life surgical applications,” said Pierre Boulanger, professor in the Department of Computing Science.

“We are also doing pilot studies to test the usability of the system for teaching chiropractic and physical therapy procedures,” added Greg Kawchuk, a co-supervisor on the project from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. The research team expects the system to be deployed quickly in real surgical pilot studies as soon as the pilot studies are complete. ProjectDR was presented last November at the Virtual Reality Software and Technology Symposium in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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