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Living in the Future: August 5, 2013

This week: 3D Surgical Headset, Rebuilding damaged faces with CT scans, and wearable “translation” devices for dogs!

Technology and Medicine have played nicely together for many years now, as one spurs on advances in the other, but surgery in particular relies on technology to get the most done with the least amount of damage. A new surgical headset designed by Sony, and that is being used in Japan as of last week, allows surgeons to have closeup views of their work, in 3D, and still be able to use their “Mark 1 Eyeballs” to get an overview and make sure that everything is correct. The display uses 2 HD OLED screens, which allow for 3D vision and a “picture in picture” setup that can be adjusted by head motions, to reduce the amount of hand motion that might interfere with the delicate surgery. The headset displays aren’t cheap, costing around fifteen-thousand dollars each, but may help save lives and provide detailed information to surgeons immediately.

Facial reconstruction is an old art, dating back to Egyptians who built false noses and ears to replace those lost in war or agricultural accident. Modern soldiers often suffer facial injuries which have been cause for disfigurement, but thanks to CBCT scans, which can show bone structure and create a 3D reconstruction, they may now be able to obtain accurate facial prosthetics that restore their original facial structure and look. These scans allow for 3D printed prosthetics to be made extremely accurate, either matching the structure on the opposite side of the face, or being reconstructed from a reference image. But to be most accurate, a “before” image needs to be taken – and the company is working with the US military to scan the facial structure of each serviceman or woman. This image would also allow doctors to practice in a Virtual Reality rig, to ensure that the reconstruction is accurate.

Have you ever wanted to know what your dog is thinking? Well, that sort of technology isn’t yet available – but the next closest thing may be Georgia Institute of Technology’s FIDO, which stands for “Facilitating Interactions with Dogs with Occupations”. FIDO is a collar with different sensors attached that allow a trained dog to lick, bite, or otherwise manipulate the sensors to send a message to their handler with more information. In the case of screening dogs, it could be used to identify either an infraction, like possession of drugs, or a threat, like parts of a bomb. In a more personal usage, FIDO could allow guide dogs to clarify information, and give signals for obstructed routes, or unexpected terrain problems. As the technology makes its way to the traditional home, it may help a dog let its owner know about needing food, water, walks, or other canine needs!