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Resource Database > Augmenting Healthcare
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Telehealth | Theraputic Worlds | Neuroprosthetics | Sensor Web | Levelling the Field
Modern healthcare has the ability to cure almost any ill. That is, it has the ability. In truth, it falls far short of this goal. In some countries, like the USA, medical care is not undertaken unless it is judged ?profitable? in monetary means to do so. In others, like the UK state-run healthcare system is stretched to the limits.

Medical staff are not really at their best when fatigued, or after a triple shift in an overcrowded facility. Chaotic systems through sheer mass of patients is a great way to misplace records, and the level of care swiftly plummets.

Where care should be a safety net, gently protecting you from a fall, the manpower and resources are simply never there.

Virtual and Augmented reality systems are something sorely needed and immensely useful to medicare functionality. Automated tasks free up personnel, and do not draw a wage. Robots that wander the wards, allowing a doctor to visit their patients, and monitor vital signs without leaving the office, saving time walking from ward to ward, even tele-diagnose outside the hospital.

Robot porters work tirelessly day and night, navigating hospitals, carrying packages and organs securely. In the operating theatres, robot arms perform delicate microsurgery, operated by a specialist, not even in the same building. The surgeon operating can see your organs, and the cut in perfect detail despite the blood, thanks to a virtual display overlaid on their vision.

Virtual reality copies of the patient allow endless practice before the actual operation, and RFID-tagged patients are easy to locate.


Designing Interfaces (3)

For any VR or AR project, designing the basic interface can be a hip-deep challenge. The human-computer interface (HCI) is the single most important element, and forms the bond between the participant and the world.
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Augmented Telehealth
The problem with implementing telehealth is that it cannot be deployed alone. In order to use remote delivered health care effectively, the entire health care system needs augmenting with other aspects of the same technologies, and methodologies changed slightly to be more time efficient and much more digital.

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Book Excerpt: Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform
Gamasutra has aquired rights to reprint a large excerptfrom Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform - Games for Physical and Mental Health.

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How Augmented Reality Will Work
An introductory level guide for augmented reality - what it is, how it works, what you can expect from modern systems. Reproduced with permission from howstuffworks.com, this guide is slightly behind the times in terms of sheer bulk of the technology, but is likely to be sound for a very long time to come.

Robotic Surgery (5)

We are at the limits of human dexterity. But who says a surgeon's skill should be lost if their hands have started to shake with age, or if an operation is just too complex for human hands? Augmented Reality is here to help.
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?Smart skin? holds promise for morphing wings and wearable computers
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 09-08-2004, deemed too important to allow to fade. A piece of some rubbery substance, fairly translucent, yet can hold a current as well as a piece of steel. It is scrunched up into a ball, twisted back upon itself like a squeegee, then stretched to twice its normal length, blasted in a furnace, and doused with fuel. All throughout this, and after, it continues to conduct as well as it did before - and returns to its normal shape after you've finished, without even a blemish.

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Intelligent, Sensitive Surgical Drill
Boring small holes in the head is a common occurrence for surgeons working on delicate surgical procedures for the senses. Dentists drilling teeth, surgeons drilling into the nose, ear, or drilling holes into the head. Delicate, tiny movements where one slip could slam the drill into soft tissue, rending arteries rearing ligaments, driving shards of bone into the brain.

Mass production of any item, lowers the production cost. Mass production of prosthetic limbs has never been possible in the past, due to the niche nature of replacement limbs ? just not a large enough market to justify traditional mass production facilities. Now, there are signs that that is changing, as it becomes possible to ?print? any structure in three dimensions, in almost any material, without customised facilities. The cost of mass production is disappearing from mass production.

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Robotic maneuvers render shorter scar, recovery time after heart surgery
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 10-08-2004, deemed too important to allow to fade. WESTON -- Doug Sherman had coronary bypass surgery on a Friday and was home by Monday. A week later, he went back to work as an optician in Boca Raton. This unheard-of recovery time is all thanks to AR (Augmented Reality) surgery.

The da Vinci System is called "da Vinci" because Leonardo da Vinci invented the first robot Leonardo also used unparalleled anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his masterpieces to life; thus the robot was named after him. First cleared by the American FDA in 2000, the DaVinci surgical robot is designed to enable minimally invasive, complex surgery.

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Training in Virtual Reality (5)

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Education pushes further into virtuality - Virtual Medical School Planned
A short news snippet from August, 2003, concerning a planned medical school in cyberspace.

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Games for Health 2008: Round Up
This two part overview of the Games for Health Conference 2008, split due to length necessity, features five examples that were actually shown at the conference, together with expert testimony on how gaming and VR are changing the medical space, beyond recognition.

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Radiotherapy in the UK benefits from virtual reality training
All trainee radiographers in the UK will learn how to treat cancer on virtual patients using Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training (VERT), a development by the University of Hull and the Princess Royal Hospital.

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University of Calgary Unveils the CAVEman Virtual Human
Scientists at the University of Calgary have created the world?s first complete object-oriented computer model of a human body. Far superior to a series of slides, or a textbook, the model is codenamed CAVEman. CAVEman is four-dimensional, as opposed to three, because he can move, as opposed to being static. He can interact with those studying him.

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Virtual Dentistry Allows Students to Fully Experience Mouth
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 28-07-2004, deemed too important to allow to fade. The UIC College of Dentistry is planning to test a new virtual reality dentistry simulation that allows students full tactile, and taste sense of both sides of the procedure, without actually operating on patients. The following excerpt has been listed birectly from the press release:

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Virtual Treatment (7)

Virtual treatment covers the whole gamut of using virtual reality system to treat a patients medical condition effectively. For obvious reasons, this area overlaps a great deal with therapeutic worlds. However, virtual treatment covers far more than just therapy. It is possible for example to create a virtual replica of the patient, for the surgeon to experiment on prior to surgery, or to trial drugs on, whilst looking for potential problems.
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Book Quotes: Medical HUD
Medical HUD systems, that overlay different spectral frequencies on top of normal vision. Came out of a novel, does not exist yet today. Doable? Absolutely.

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Book Quotes: SimStim Rom - A Medical Escapism
The use of pre-recorded full sensory experiences as a means of preventing pain and occupying the mind whilst doctors and surgeons work.

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Personalised Healthcare Simulation of Blood
A simulation of blood flows and clots, personalised to every individual patient from a sample of their blood, has been developed in order to precisely ascertain which drug to give a specific patient to break up plaques harmlessly, and which to absolutely never give.

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Rendering a VR for Viruses
University of Melbourne researchers have been utilising the full power of a dedicated IBM Blue Gene supercomputer to run a single massive virtual reality system - simulating the common cold virus inside and out. The purpose? To defeat it.

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Replicating Medical Epidemics in Virtual Worlds
Are MMO worlds really a place where epidemics can be implemented? Infections leaping from player to player, some succumbing, some becoming carriers? It seems amazing, and farfetched - no player would stand for that, surely. Yet, this has already happened in at least one persistent virtual world.

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Taking Stroke Rehabilitation Into The Technological Age
This virtual reality system focuses specifically on helping stroke patients regain more use of arm and hand movement, hopefully making everyday tasks such as eating, drinking and driving possible.

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Virtual Reality Treats Lazy Eye
Industry News

Amblyopia, better known as lazy eye, is a medical condition whereby one eye works better than the other. The standard cure is 400 hours with an eyepatch. VR can achieve the same results - in an hour.

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Wageless Workers (2)

Robotics offers the possibility of lowering expenses for institutions of all kinds, by automating the more menial roles, working without breaks, bathroom facilities or wage packets, day and night.
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Encroachment of the Computerised Doctor
After decades of future predictions that came to naught, it looks like the medical community is finally; very begrudgingly accepting that computerised physicians might actually be a desirable thing.

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Wageless Workers: Robot Porters
A hospital porter is a much-overlooked, but invaluable staff member. They are essentially the beasts of burden for the hospital. Carrying everything from highly sensitive medical data, to trolley loads of towels, medicine carts, chairs, bedding, toiletry and hygiene supplies? literally anything and everything. Unfortunately, they are also a security issue, as they fade inti the background, and are easily impersonated.

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Medical Data Standards (7)

In order for virtual healthcare to reach its full potential, there must be a consensus from the relevant authorities about which medical data standards are being used, along with how you interface with them.
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Augmenting Medical Records: OpenMRS
OpenMRS, or The Open Medical Record System, is a free, open-source attempt at creating a distributed electronic patient records system. It is web based, written in Java, and is under active development.

The Perspecta display system was released by Actuality Systems in May 2005. Its intended purpose is as a 3D volumetric display capable of projecting a virtual object right in front of you.

AR based Medical imaging technologies really began to take off in the early 2000s. There are a growing range of holographic, projective, interactive gesture recognition tools available, which can really make training and diagnosis so much easier.

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Standards > DICOM
DICOM, which stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine is the main set of standards currently in use by medical communities for medical data handling.

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Standards > MedX3D
The Medical Working Group of the X3D consortium is developing an open interoperable standard for human anatomy representation. This standard works with multiple types of scans (CAT, MRI, PET, and others), and allows equipment manufacturers to be able to export data collected from the scanning machines into a shared data format.

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Standards > PACS
Picture Archiving and Communications System, or PACS is a digital image standard, used increasingly in medicine. A basic level standard, it is often in place before more advanced standards like DICOM.

Toshiba's leviathan of a computed topography scanner, Aquilion ONE is an attempt to go beyond the need for multiple scanning tests. The plan is to replace x-rays, CAT scans, nuclear studies, and other visualisation based diagnosis techniques in one swoop.

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One Ambulance, One Hospital (4)

It does not matter the name of the country, or the type of health service run. Wherever there are ambulance services, the ambulance staff are always stretched beyond breaking point. What if you could cut out the annoying trip back to the hospital for many patients? Diagnose the problem there and then, provide solutions for many, interface with hospital computers and hospital doctors via telepresence, then move onto the next patient? A hospital on the road. Surely thats not possible?
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X-ray technology in the 21st century
A mainstream article from the BBC looking at the spread of PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications Standard) in UK health centres in mid 2007, and the profound positive impact it has had on those health authorities it has been adopted in.

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$250,000 Ambulance
Better help is on the way for the 30-odd million people who call on EMS every year. Shrinking electronics, wireless proliferation and ?smart? materials from the likes of NASA are set to transform the ambulance into a virtually mobile emergency room.

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BioChips: A Hospital in a shoebox
A biochip is a computer chip, that is a mix of circuits for electrical signals, and tiny canals for fluid, usually blood. There are many different definitions for a biochip. Some class biochips as those RFID chips injected into humans and animals. A few consider a petridish full of lab-grown rat brain cells hooked to a pc as a biochip. Others regard prosthetic interface chips as biochips, whilst still others lab-on-a-chips to be biochips. So who is right?

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Hospital in the Ambulance, Chip in Your Hand
A counterpart to the hospital in the home, this article expands that concept, to have a hospital in the back of every ambulance, already diagnosing and beginning hospital care, on the ride in - everything short of surgery.

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Hospital at Home (4)

When you get sick, what do you do? Go to the doctor, of course. If you are very sick, you go to the hospital, summoning an ambulance if needed. What if there was a third option? What if you had access to all the hospitals facilities save surgery at home? What if you could schedule a doctors appointment without ever leaving the safety and comfort of your house?
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Diagnosing Sugar Levels from Saliva
A new prototype biochip, using a type of sensor called a plasmonic interferometer, offers a means to check a person's blood sugar levels with a simple swab on the inside of the mouth. No blood drawing necessary.

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Flexible, Implantable Biosensor for Healthcare
A prototype health sensor has been created that can be implanted inside the human body, bend to wrap around organs, and monitor in real-time any changes, illuminated by it's own light. The only problem is, it's still in the prototype stage.

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The Doctor is...At Home?
Welcome to the world of a hospital in your house. In the very near future, this is what it may well be like.

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Using Biolabs With Interchangable Chips
Currently, there are several biochip lab devices available. Each takes a small number of compatible, disposable biochips. The lab powers the biochips, maintains a sterile environment, and controls the fluid gates for each sample. The only problem is, each can only handle one condition, so hundreds of labs are required for every condition. Surely there is another way?