Haptic systems to bring feeling back to robotic instruments

Darren Murph
D. Murph|11.30.06

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Haptic systems to bring feeling back to robotic instruments
We've heard some very intelligent humans suggest that computerized beings just might be a bit more adept at handling complicated tasks, but some things just require a little TLC from the human hand. While even the operating room wasn't safe from robotic takeover, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University are testing new ways to bring real feelings back to human doctors using robotic helpers in order to operate. Straight from a chapter in Trauma Center, the team is developing haptic technologies to provide close-to-real feedback to surgeons while handling robotic tools. One option undergoing testing is the attachment of "force sensors" to instruments, which are capable of conveying details about force, direction, and depth that are critical when performing incisions and other precise tasks. The alternative is to "create mathematical computer models" that represent tool movements, and consequently relay the haptic data back to the person in charge. While kinks continue to be worked out in the primary methods, researchers have developed an "interim" system that uses color-based sensors to inform doctors how much pressure is being applied (i.e. red for intense pressure, green for light), and the team plans on "refining the systems" to produce a more usable result in the near future.

[Via MedGadget]
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