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Robot surgery gets virtual at Euro Space Agency

CAMDASS augmented reality for astronaut patch-up

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The European Space Agency is showing off an augmented-reality kit which it says will ultimately pave the way for diagnosis and even surgery for astronauts.

The CAMDASS – Computer-Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System – combines a head-mounted display with 3D guidance. The prototype has been developed with ultrasound in mind as the diagnostic tool, because that’s already available on the International Space Station, where the developers ultimately hope to send a more mature system.

The idea of CAMDASS is to solve a problem that would otherwise plague longer space journeys: how to give travellers to Mars medical support without replacing the astronauts with medicos.

Its key components – apart, of course, from the software pulling everything together – are the stereo head-mounted display, and an ultrasound tool tracked with a infrared camera.

Guidance markers on the patient register the area of interest with the system, which correlates those points with a “virtual human” so as to display cue cards in the headset guiding the wearer to correctly use the ultrasound probe.

The system also has speech recognition for hands-free control, and provides reference images so that the controller has an idea of what they should be seeing.

The ESA’s description of CAMDASS can be found here. ®

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