Kinect-based system dramatically cuts cost of telemedicine

February 15, 2013
Kinect Console

Microsoft Kinect (credit: Microsoft Corp.)

A Kinect game controller and Microsoft software couldĀ cut the U.S. healthcare bill by up to $30 billion by allowing physicians and other medics to interact with patients remotely, reducing the number of hospital visits and the associated risk of infection.

It could also bring medical services to underserved areas around the world.

Janet Bailey of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Bradley Jensen of Microsoft have developed the Collaboration and Annotation of Medical Images (CAMI) system, which can make the knowledge and skills of healthcare workers available remotely to where they are needed, they say.

This could cut patient transport costs for those who live considerable distances from suitable hospitals and health centers and would also lower the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

For a few hundred dollars, CAMI could replace or augment existing telemedicine systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars, the researchers say.

CAMI uses a laptop, Kinect, Microsoft Azure connection, and Office 365 (credit: James Taylor)

The Kinect also allows doctors to “control the system without breaking the sterile field via hand gestures and voice commands, with a goal of reducing the direct cost of healthcare-associated infections to hospitals and patients,” the team says.

In many regions, there is a shortage of specialists at a time when they are needed most, due to growing populations and increasing numbers of individuals suffering from the diseases of old age. The issue of access to expert healthcare is particularly acute in remote parts of the developing world and even in many rural communities removed from U.S. cities in the West.

The team has demonstrated that the system works even where only low-bandwidth and unreliable connectivity is available.