Cool development, Ann. It does seem like you (and others) have been writing a ton about medical-related robotics technology lately. Have we turned the tide on some particular piece of technology or perhaps a cultural shift that signals this segment is more ready to embrace this kind of technology?
Impressive robot, Ann. Sounds like the robots movements are finer than a surgeon's hands. Is it still the surgeon who manipulates the robot? It would be interesting to see in coming year whether technicians will control medical robots, thus replacing surgeons -- a new version of the machine versus the human body.
Beth, I think the answer is yes. Meaning, a combination of several factors. For one thing, the story I wrote on the open source Raven II surgical robot http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=239419 and NASA's use of the daVinci surgical robot http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=237609 made it clear that surgical robotics technology is being applied to a variety of applications. Next, the open source Robotic Operating System (ROS), which Raven II is based on, and open source robotics in general, are taking off, broadening the types of surgery robotic assistance is being aimed at. And patients, as well as surgeons, are also becoming more accustomed to the idea and the practice.
Do you see a time, Ann, when technical people -- who may understand the technology better than a surgeon -- are at the controls of this technology? Or, will we see a form of surgical practice that specializes on the use technology?
I'm not quite sure what you're asking. The robot surgical tools are the same ones surgeons use, but much smaller and more finely tuned, so they are more accurate. They can be smaller partly because the surgeons are controlling them through a robot intermediary. They are also accompanied by video cams that give the surgeons closeups of what they're working on. So they are really extensions of the surgeon.
Ann, Excellent story. It makes sense that robotics would be a great addition for very precise control over fine-tuned tasks that a surgeon must perform. It's also amazing that the interfaces have become so visual. I like to tease a young man I've know for years, who just graduated from medical school, that all his years at video games are coming in handy for his new life as a cardiologist. Thanks.
Once again we see a story about engineers advancing medical science and saving lives. I'm not trying to detract from the important work that physicians and surgeons do, but it would be nice to see engineers get their due (as doctors do) when the subject turns to medicine in popular culture. Great story, Ann. There can never be too many of these!
So right you are. The video gaming generation finally has use for those skills. There is still skill and judgment involved, but I'll bet eventually the engineers will even take that out of the equation. Then it will all be done automatically!
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
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