Using Xbox technology to further medicine

MADRID -- The technology that makes your Xbox fun and touch-free is now being used to avoid contamination in hospitals.
Written by Jennifer Riggins, Contributor on

MADRID--One of the biggest challenges facing doctors and nurses in the OR and around the hospital is maintaining sterility. TedCas uses Kinect touch-free technology to completely avoid a large cause of contamination: the computers and scans doctors have to reference during procedures.

"It's the touch-screen you don't need to touch," said Paloma Fuentes, chief operating officer of TedCas.

The original idea was to use it in surgery. Doctors often need to reference patient files, scans and x-rays during procedures. The doctors either need to remove gloves to use the common touch-screen computers and then need to re-sterilize before continuing the procedure, or they have to have a nurse do if for them. These methods take up more time and create the potential for infection, as usually someone needs to touch the screen without gloves and computers are challenging to sterilize. Fuentes, who has a masters in biomedical engineering, says the "touch-screens are a huge source of infection."

With the TedCas technology, doctors can search through and bring up a patient's file, manipulate scans and scan in and out where necessary. The technology is even applied through voice recognition, with the objective of eventually controling the level of scanning and maybe even for use as a file search engine. The computer does not even need to be in the same room, but can be manipulated from behind glass, up to four meters away.

Fuentes says that she and the members of her consulting team originally thought the touch-free technology would be most useful in the operating room, but they have found that doctors have many places where they need to go out of their way to be sterile and to avoid infection. Essentially, anything that can be touched, anywhere, has the potential to transmit an infection or disease.

"During almost all medical processes, sometimes the doctor wants to check information," Fuentes said. Because of the sterile requirements, "the doctor needs someone else to touch the computer to look." She says this wastes time. "Now the doctor can handle it themselves, without exiting the sterile environment."

In the last month, TedCas has enlisted a group of experts--doctors, nurses, radiologists, and the like--to consult on where they can best utilize the technology. Besides the OR, radio diagnostics and intensive care units are being focused on in the first round of research. Anywhere sterile conditions are necessary, it could provide added-value.

Fuentes says TedCas wants to try to use the touch-free innovation wherever it could be useful. "If the Alpha works, we will extend it past the sterile environments, where you really, really, really need to be careful about infections. We want to prevent infections from the beginning," Fuentes said. "We want them (the doctors) to access the information easily, intuitively and in a completely safe way."

She says that it would take a doctor less than 30 minutes to learn and master the simple, "intuitive" technology.

The next step for TedCas is to initiate the alpha stage with hospitals in Madrid, allowing doctors to test the product, in order to find where it could be most beneficial. Then, they intend to present to companies like General Electric and Siemens to work towards adapting the Kinect usage to integrate with existing technology. Each hospital has fairly customized machinery and TedCas wants to be just as customizable.

TedCas is also part of Telefonica's Wayra project. Fuentes was brought in to head TedCas' Wayra branch, as an expert in both technology and biomedical engineering. Fuentes is working with Santander's Tedesys. Tedesys was originally researching the Kinect depth perception camera's usage in marketing and in shop windows, when the research team thought of its medical application.

Besides the Kinect camera project, Tedesys are also working on creating better Web content managers for hospitals and doctors' offices. Like clouds, they are developing a place that doctors in third world countries can upload their scans and files, which they can then re-access at any time or place. It would give quick and affordable portable access to protocols and scans anytime, anywhere.

The TedCas project has been chosen by X-Box as one of the Top 4 best applications for Kinect worldwide, alongside solutions for stroke patients and autistic children. There is no doubt that TedCas will be connecting solutions for the medical industry for years to come.

Video provide by TedCas. To view in Spanish go here.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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