Microsoft Kinect: Potential Uses in the Medical Device Industry

Xbox-360-Kinect-StandaloneThe second version of Microsoft Kinect is on the market, and with it comes the potential for use in the mainstream medical device industry. The Kinect is a motion capturing camera peripheral for the Xbox 360 system. Although the new version is technically identical to the Xbox One version launched in November, it now has better tracking accuracy—able to track up to six bodies, and containing a fisheye lens to detect users who stand closer to the device.

Mobilhealthnews conducted an interview with Spencer Hutchins, CEO of Reflexion Health, a digital physical therapy start-up. According to Hutchings, the accuracy of the new Kinect version “unlocks a number of clinical use cases in which precision is important.” The Microsoft Kinect was originally an alternate controller for the Xbox 360 game console, but developers saw potential for using the motion sensing camera with other industries, especially healthcare. Microsoft has given some healthcare companies permission to experiment with the prototypes.

Manas Kanungo is a champion in leading innovative strategic marketing and business initiatives with a specialization in medical devices. “Microsoft’s new Kinect system is a great improvement over systems out there currently,” says Kanungo. “However, unless Microsoft keeps up its technological edge, others are sure to quickly follow in its footsteps, with further improvements in features and benefits.

“As for now, this technology will certainly open the doors to other applications with immense utility values … in robotic systems for laboratories, hospitals, long-term care, pharmacy services, telehealth applications, ambulatory services including wheelchairs for elders and paraplegics and amputees, war zones, etc. Real-time sensitive, dynamic, abilities of remote systems have been lacking till now, which this system begins to finally address. Merged with other new technologies out there, this should start a race for the good of better health in an area that has been lacking in innovation till now!”

Kurk A. Rogers is a registered nurse with an MBA in Technology Management. He has extensive experience in all aspects of healthcare from a clinical and administrative point of view. He explains, “After review I immediately see a potential utilization regarding patient safety. As a risk management specialist and registered nurse, I am aware of the very high patient cost related to fall injuries in the hospital setting. Monitors at the Nurses Stations would be able to see patients that have been assessed for fall risk and have consented, either by themselves or their family members, to be monitored in this manner for privacy reasons.

“The camera positions would be strictly enforced (not pointed view the patient and the bathroom). Programing of the fisheye would allow for monitoring of the bed dimensions. The camera would recognize movement the Kinect would recognize the patient pull up the image – if the patient is merely shifting position this would be recognized, or conversely, if the patient were attempting to climb over bed railings or attempting to remove or pull out critical things like EKG or IV lines, this would be the early warning necessary to protect the patient from harming themselves.

“Xbox could also prompt things such as soothing music or calm imagery/ guided imagery when agitated movement (based on parameters determined by existing research or new research on level of agitation). If a baseline agitation scale is established then Xbox could notify the nurse and immediately tell the patient, ‘Sir for your safety please stop what you are doing – your nurse is being notified to assist you at this time.’

“Also, since Xbox utilizes voice command if the patient is taught to use this then it could notify the nurse by ‘Xbox show me Ocean video.’ Finally this could be utilized as a patient and family teaching aide – with commands and predetermined content tied to the Xbox such as ‘Xbox explain Colonoscopy,’ ‘Xbox show video of Home Care information (wound care etc.)”

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