SEATTLE--Microsoft thinks its Kinect motion-sensing game controller will find a spot in operating rooms and doctors offices as it already has in consumers' living rooms.
The software giant, which has been working for years to get health care companies to use its technology, is trying to open doors with Kinect. Today at the Pacific Health Summit here, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, showed how medical providers can use the technology to improve care.
In one scenario, patients virtually attend group therapy sessions. But rather than displaying their actual images, Kinect allows them to use avatars, which can capture the movements of the arms, shoulders, even eyebrows, while allowing them to maintain anonymity with the group.
"There's a naturalness to it, even though there's a cartoonish quality about it," Mundie said. "But you get a huge amount of clues."
In his scenario, one patient, listening to another member of the group chat, sat with arms crossed, brow furrowed, and appeared disinterested. That could be a clinical sign of depression worth following.
This isn't just about Kinect, though. Microsoft and other big tech companies such as Google have been courting the health care market for years, prompted in no small part by federal initiatives to drive the digitization of medicine. But those initiatives have so far had, at best, mixed success, in an industry that loves the latest technical marvel in equipment but resists the digitization of patient records. But with so much spent on health care, the lure for tech providers is hard to ignore.… Read more