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Videogame Derived Medicine

The Dextroscope its not, but BodyViz serves as a low-cost VR Solution

Typically the various fields that make up gaming and simulation, practical and academic, are all very standoffish. Each keeps to their own little pond, and snarls at any others who try to come near. It is an absolute nightmare for progress of course, and is largely born out of the belief by many that there are certain ways things must be done, which is even worse for progress.

So, it came as something of a surprise when, without outside assistance in realigning the thinking process, engineers at Iowa State University combined serious simulation tools and videogame technology together to create a medical simulation VR. The rest of us have of course been foing that for decades - those of us used to holistic work anyhow.

BodyViz, as the window-on-world VR result is known, creates three-dimensional images from two-dimensional plates created by body scanning technology, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed axial tomography (CAT scan).

The 3D images are then manipulated with an Xbox 360 standard controller, which is where the videogaming bit comes in. Sadly the X-box joypad is the only device that will work - Wiimotes and 3D mice won't, so we are not out of the 'we all have our own little room and stick to it' methodology quite yet, its more that someone has dared to open one of the doors and leave all the others locked.

The software itself supports DICOM medical data, not PACS, so that is another aspect to work on, and retails for 5,000 usd, which it is hoped will be low enough to attract interest on the use of VR software to manipulate scan data in the mainstream.

said Curt Carlson, chief executive of the Ames company created to market the software, proudly announced at launch that "This is disruptive technology that will revolutionise the way medicine is practised."

In truth of course, its nothing of the kind. There is nothing new in its capabilities that other VR visualisation systems for medical data, don't already do. But let them have their moment of fame and glory. Besides, where it does excel, is in providing a low-cost solution, and that is definitely something medical visualisation sorely needs.


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