An article in today’s Toronto Star titled “Surgeons given a hands-off way to Kinect” clearly demonstrates how improvements can be realized in our work environment. One of the concerns in the operating room is maintaining a sterile field during surgery. Doctors cannot physically touch any devices away from the sterile field for fear of breaking it and have only 1 of 2 choices if they need to review MRI’s or CT scans:
- Scrub in and out every time, which according to the article can add up to two (2) hours per surgery, or
- Hire an assistant to page through the records for them.
In the search for a better way, Matt Strickland, a first year surgical resident at the University of Toronto and electrical engineer, and Jamie Tremaine, a mechatronics engineer, who both studied engineering at the University of Waterloo, joined forces to help solve this problem. Together, they devised a system using the XBox Kinect with the help of Greg Brigley, a computer engineer and also a University of Waterloo graduate.
Using their technology, doctors can now scroll through as many as 4,000 documents using simple hand motions, literally integrating access to information into the surgical process without jeopardizing the sterile field.
Why is this significant?
Matt Strickland was the assistant providing the necessary “documents” to the doctors performing the surgery. This is a very impressive application of thinking outside of the box. I highly encourage you to read the article. Serendipity is seldom the source of repeatable innovations, however, in this instance we’ll take it just the same.
This example demonstrates another reason to include everyone in the problem solving process and also reaffirms that there is always a better way. You just don’t know where your next solution will find its roots.
On a final note, I have to wonder if the creators of XBox even considered this application!
Until Next Time – STAY lean!