Tele-robotic microscope enables streaming video over the Internet for medical applications

Cherry Hill 02 May 2001Dr. Jay Yogeshwar, chief technology officer of Front Porch Digital Inc., a company specialised in the conversion, preservation and management of information assets, will work together with Rutgers University and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School researchers to develop the technology needed to create a "virtual" microscope which can broadcast real time images over the Internet. Although images currently can be transmitted over the Internet, they cannot be transmitted in streaming video formats with the high resolution necessary for medical applications.

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Front Porch Digital, which specialises in the large-scale, off-line conversion and migration of information stored on ageing media or obsolete systems to easily accessible digital formats, will contribute technology which is designed to capture, compress, encode and transcode the digitised images at the highest possible resolution. Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Front Porch Digital each will retain the rights to their respective technologies.

"The virtual microscope technology being developed by Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Front Porch Digital has tremendous medical ramifications", commented Saeed Karim, president and chief operating officer for Front Porch Digital. "First, the virtual microscope will make it less expensive to train medical students worldwide, who will be able to view operations at other locations in real time, through the Internet. Second, variations of the technology eventually will be used for other medical imaging applications, including remote medical consultation as well as smart operation theatres where medical experts from multiple locations will be able to analyse, consult, and guide diagnosis and surgery via real time streaming video transmitted from a clinic or hospital."

"Streaming" consists in the simultaneous transfer of video, audio and data so that it is received as a continuous real time stream, on demand. Front Porch Digital is developing this technology under an agreement with Rutgers' Center for Advanced Information Processing (CAIP) and the Center for Biomedical Imaging & Informatics (CBII) at New Jersey's University of Medicine and Dentistry (UMDNJ), Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, which have already built a prototype for the tele-robotic microscope. This research was funded in part by the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology.

The team of Dr. Yogeshwar, who received his master's and doctorate degrees from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, will closely collaborate with research teams, led by Dr. David J. Foran from CBII and Dr. Joseph Wilder from CAIP, to adapt Front Porch Digital's proprietary technology to capture and compress video from the virtual microscope and then stream it over the Internet in real time at a resolution comparable to broadcast television. This technology will enable the first use of streaming video for medical diagnostic purposes.

"The transmission of high resolution video via the Internet is extremely challenging", commented Edward Devinney, senior associate director of CAIP. "Dr. Yogeshwar's and Front Porch Digital's novel technology provides a highly cost-effective solution for both the transmission speed and resolution required to make the virtual microscope a reality."

Dr. Yogeshwar explained that the software-based technology ingests video and audio content in a single capture and converts it into a standards-based digital format, which can then be streamed real time via MPEG, Microsoft ASF, Real, and other formats. This approach significantly reduces the time and cost of content capture, conversion and distribution, in comparison with conventional hardware-based methods, which require multiple captures and conversions for each desired end user format. Dr. Yogeshwar has received several patents for his pioneering work in the domains of software encoding, decoding, and editing of standard and high-definition digital video.


Leslie Versweyveld

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