"One challenge will be to develop the proper shapes of hand poses and the proper hand trajectory movements to reflect and express certain medical functions," Wachs said. "You want to use intuitive and natural gestures for the surgeon, to express medical image navigation activities, but you also need to consider cultural and physical differences between surgeons. They may have different preferences regarding what gestures they may want to use."
Other challenges include providing computers with the ability to understand the context in which gestures are made and to discriminate between intended gestures versus unintended gestures.
"Say the surgeon starts talking to another person in the operating room and makes conversational gestures," Wachs said. "You don't want the robot handing the surgeon a hemostat."
A scrub nurse assists the surgeon and hands the proper surgical instruments to the doctor when needed.
"While it will be very difficult using a robot to achieve the same level of performance as an experienced nurse who has been working with the same surgeon for years, often scrub nurses have had very limited experience with a particular surgeon, maximizing the chances for misunderstandings, delays and sometimes mistakes in the operating room," Wachs said. "In that case, a robotic scrub nurse could be better."
The Purdue researcher has developed a prototype robotic scrub nurse, in work with faculty in the university's School of Veterinary Medicine.
Researchers at other institutions developing robotic scrub nurses have focused on voice recognition. However, little work has been done in the area of gesture recognition, Wachs said.
"Another big difference between our focus and the others is that we are also working on prediction, to anticipate what images the surgeon will need to see next and what instruments will be needed," he
|Contact: Emil Venere|