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Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect breathes new life into respiratory assessment

Xbox Kinects could be used in the future to assess the health of patients with conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Normally found in the hands of gamers rather than medics the Microsoft sensors could be used to assess the respiratory function of patients.

Researchers at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, 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 of using the devices. 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.

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

Three-D scans taken by the system, and how respiration is detected
Three-D scans taken by the system, and how respiration is detected
Image Credit: University of Warwick