Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect to help people with respiratory illnesses

London, March 23 (IANS) Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect – a popular sensor-based gaming console – can assess the respiratory function of patients and spot conditions such as cystic fibrosis, researchers including an Indian origin scientist report.

The team from the University of Warwick and the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, University of Birmingham and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) have developed a method to use the gaming device.

The system consists of four Kinect sensors which are capable of quickly creating a 3D image of a patient’s torso.

This enables physicians to measure and assess how a chest wall moves.

In tests, it has proven to be as accurate as a patient breathing into a spirometer – the current method used – but providing additional information about the movement of the chest, which could help in identifying numerous respiratory problems.

“In screening, diagnostics, monitoring therapy and providing bio feedback, the Xbox can be used in any condition affecting breathing,” said Babu Naidu, chief investigator, thoracic surgeon at HEFT.

“We have developed a low-cost prototype which provides a more comprehensive measurement of a patient’s breathing then existing methods,” added Dr Chris Golby at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, University of Warwick.

Spirometry is the technique most commonly used to treat lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways.

The academics put their prototype to trial initially using a resuscitation mannequin, then on healthy volunteers and adults with cystic fibrosis.

As the Kinect has an infrared beam it allowed them to measure changes in distances across the chest wall.

The system uses four sensors which allow measurement of movement from more than one viewpoint.

Using off-the-shelf and bespoke software they were able to create a 3D image of a patient’s chest wall.

“It is also potentially very useful in assessing changes in respiratory physiology that occur during exercise. This is in contrast with existing systems which rely on data from one viewpoint,” Dr Golby noted in a paper published in the journal Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing.

The team is now planning to develop their prototype further using Microsoft’s new version of the Kinect, working with cystic fibrosis and other respiratory conditions.

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