The NGI constitutes a federally funded interagency programme dedicated to building an ultra high-speed communications infrastructure with substantial bandwidth and guaranteed levels of service, to succeed the current Internet architecture. The aim of the research contract is to enable the design and utilisation of cutting edge applications for the NGI which will allow medical educators to conduct real time, synchronous collaborative teaching and research using complex, dynamic, bio-mechanical models. This environment will serve as a catalyst for worldwide collaboration on the most advanced medical issues.
A novel architecture is being developed to deliver real time simulation and visualisation technologies to a geographically distributed audience. The client component will be based on a low-cost desktop PC or workstation with a touch-enabled interface. The end goal is a relatively low cost and readily available device which will enable students, physicians, and researchers to experience the educational benefits worldwide.
The goal of the research project is to demonstrate remote, real time teaching of human anatomy and surgery, utilising the NGI as a communications medium, and Immersion's technology to employ the sense of touch. The SUMMIT group and Immersion will work together to develop two advanced teaching applications and deploy them in a local NGI test bed network for evaluation. The first application will support instruction in human anatomy. The second will focus on basic surgical skills training, specifically on new endoscopic and laparoscopic procedures.
Both applications will support collaboration with other participants through a shared virtual workspace and will employ touch feedback to augment the visual and auditory senses, as well as provide a more realistic simulation environment. This technology could be implemented for the definition of new curricular elements, including the virtual dissection of several anatomical structures, the creation of 3D organ models, and the virtual experience of fundamental surgical procedures.
Under the terms of the agreement, Stanford University's SUMMIT group has finalised a subcontract with Immersion for the first year, which is part of a larger three-year contract totalling $617.000. This is one part of an overall research contract awarded by NIH to Stanford, worth $4 million. "We're honoured that Stanford University has recognised the great importance of Immersion's TouchSense technology", stated Dr. Louis Rosenberg, who is founder and CEO of Immersion.
"We anticipate that a wide community of teachers and physicians will share data and professional experiences, through a distributed client-server system. This project signifies a revolutionary step in the future of medical education and the company is looking forward to utilising the TouchSense technology to create a more realistic training environment for doctors, which could translate into better medical care for everyone."
"Medical education has a clear, profound impact on the quality and cost-effectiveness of the health care delivery system. The advanced medical technologies such as minimal access surgery and laser-based procedures are creating an urgent demand for health care professionals with new complex skills", commented Dr. Parvati Dev, Director of SUMMIT at Stanford University. "Stanford recognises the importance of new technology in improving all levels of education to help health care professionals integrate these new procedures into practice. We've chosen to partner with industry innovators like Immersion, and well-known doctors and scientists, to fulfil on the promise of the NGI."
Founded in 1993, Immersion Corporation develops advanced hardware and software technologies which enable users to interact with computers using their sense of touch. Immersion's patented TouchSense technologies enable computer peripheral devices to deliver tactile sensations that correspond to on-screen events. Immersion licenses its hardware and software technology, on which it holds 42 issued patents worldwide, to industry-leaders in order to integrate and implement its pioneering sensory interaction technology into professional simulation and modelling, consumer devices, and the enabling technologies.