Touchless Interaction in Medical Imaging

Established: November 16, 2011

This project explores the use of new touchless technology in medical practice.

With advances in medical imaging over the years, surgical procedures have become increasingly reliant on a range of digital imaging systems for navigation, reference, diagnosis and documentation. The need to interact with images in these surgical settings offers particular challenges arising from the need to maintain boundaries between sterile and non-sterile aspects of the surgical environment and practices. Traditional input devices such as keyboard, mouse and touch screen surfaces are reliant physical contact. Such contact-based interaction introduces the possibility for contaminated material to be transferred between the sterile and non-sterile. This constraint creates difficulties for surgical staff who are scrubbed up and are dependent upon others to manipulate images on their behalf. This can create inefficiencies, which in turn can entail potential medical complications. Additionally, it can interfere with the surgeon’s interpretive and analytic use of the images.

The aim of the project then is to explore the use of touchless interaction within surgical settings, allowing images to be viewed, controlled and manipulated without contact through the use of camera-based gesture recognition technology. In particular, the project seeks to understand the challenges of these environments for the design and deployment of such systems, as well as articulate the ways in which these technologies may alter surgical practice. While our primary concerns here are with maintaining conditions of asepsis, the use of these touchless gesture-based technologies offers other potential uses. For example, such systems offer interesting possibilities for interacting with emerging 3D imaging technologies. They also enable new possibilities for how the surgeons spatially configure themselves with respect to the various screens within surgical settings by enabling interaction at a distance. Such technologies then also offer potential to re-imagine the spatial environments within which image-based surgery takes place.


Portrait of Antonio Criminisi

Antonio Criminisi

Partner Research Lead Mesh Labs (Mixed Reality & AI) Microsoft Cambridge