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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Contactless Remote Control System and Method for Medical Devices", for Approval

July 31, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Li, Junbo (Shanghai, CN); Chen, Yinan (Shanghai, CN); Zhang, Yunrong (Shanghai, CN); Forbes, Zach (Shanghai, CN), filed on August 17, 2012, was made available online on July 17, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Koninklijke Philips N.v.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Medical devices without physical contact with patients are usually not sterilized after usage. This sometimes is very inconvenient to clinicians if they need to operate the medical devices outside the sterilized field or touch the non-sterilized devices with their clean hands.

"For example, in a common clinical environment, the clinicians need to use a lot of non-sterilized medical devices. Sometimes they have to step outside the sterilized field to reach the devices and then go back to treat the patient. This may break the sterility and increase the risk of patient infection. This also increases the clinician's burden of re-sterilizing.

"To maintain the sterility of medical devices, clinicians either have to re-sterilize them after touching them, or put on an extra pair of gloves, or ask an assistant to operate the devices under authority of the respective clinician. Those approaches are inconvenient and will increase the total cost in terms of operating time, materials or staff. For example, if the clinician asks an assistant to operate the devices under authority of the clinician, long-time training of the assistant and cooperation between clinician and assistant are required in order for the device to be properly manipulated according to the wishes of the clinician.

"In view of the above, human motion detection and gesture recognition, which has been intensively investigated for a long time, has been used in the realm of clinical medicine.

"For example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,698,002 proposes a user interface and identification system integrated with medical devices. This patent discloses a method of controlling a medical device, which comprises receiving a gesture, processing the received gesture and comparing the gesture to gestures from a gesture database comprising a plurality of gestures and a plurality of commands for the medical device; identifying one of the plurality of commands from the gesture database corresponding to the received gesture; and executing the command.

"This method enables the operator to control the medical device in a contactless way, which contributes to patient infection prevention. However, this method still has several disadvantages.

"First, since, as mentioned above, it is necessary to process the received gesture and compare the gesture to gestures from a gesture database comprising a plurality of gestures and a plurality of commands for the medical device, the accuracy of correctly translating the received gesture into the operator's desired command may not be guaranteed.

"Further, U.S. Pat. No. 7,698,002 only discloses a method of controlling one medical device, and the inventors thereof did not consider or think of the necessity for a contactless remote control system which can control more than one medical device. In this case, the method disclosed in said patent may not be applicable any more since the number of commands for a plurality of medical devices may be tremendous. On the one hand, it is very difficult and inconvenient for the operator to memorize all these gestures corresponding to all these commands. On the other hand, since some particular gestures corresponding to certain commands may be quite similar and hard to distinguish due to the large number of commands, it may be more difficult to implement the step of processing the received gesture and comparing the gesture to gestures from a database, and accordingly the accuracy of translating the received gesture into the desired command may be further reduced."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In view of the above problems in the prior art, the inventors of the present invention have realized that there is a need for a contactless remote control system, in which the controls for all the medical devices are integrated into one control console and which can help the operator to accurately control more than one medical device in a more convenient way.

"Specifically, according to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a contactless remote control system for an operator, enabling him to operate one or more medical devices in a contactless way, comprising:

"a display device for displaying a Graphic User Interface GUI regarding the one or more medical devices;

"a tracking device for tracking the motion information of the operator;

"a control device for (1) interpreting the motion information of the operator into operation information relating to the movement trajectory of a cursor in the GUI or the confirmation of the selection of an item in the GUI where the cursor locates, and for (2) operating the GUI in accordance with the operation information so as to generate control commands for the one or more medical devices; and

"an output device for outputting the control commands to the one or more medical devices.

"The contactless remote control system of the present invention utilizes a display device for displaying a Graphic User Interface GUI regarding the medical devices, so that the control device of the system does not need to compare the gesture to a gesture in the gesture database comprising a plurality of gestures and a plurality of commands for the medical device. Instead, the present invention allows the operator to visually operate the GUI in accordance with his/her motion so as to generate control commands for the medical devices.

"Since the operator is able to operate the GUI in a visual way and control the medical device accordingly, there is no need for the operator to memorize all the gestures corresponding to all these commands and therefore the operator may operate and control the medical device in a more convenient way and the degree of user satisfaction is improved.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the GUI displayed by the display device shows the one or more medical devices as selectable items when the system is activated.

"In accordance with the present embodiment, all the operable medical devices are shown on the display device and the operator can remotely select the medical device he wants to operate by performing a respective motion, for example, by moving his finger in the air, as if he were operating a virtual touch screen. As a result, the contactless remote control system, in which the controls for all the medical devices are integrated into one control console, is achieved.

"According to a further embodiment, the GUI further shows all the control items for a medical device when the operation information indicates that said medical device is selected, and the control device generates control commands for said medical device in accordance with the operation information regarding said control items.

"In accordance with the present embodiment, the GUI displayed by the display device further shows all the control items for a medical device when the operation information indicates that said medical device is selected. For example, the control items shown by the GUI may comprise all kinds of control parameters and status of the selected medical device. In this case, the operator may visually adjust or manipulate these control parameters and status by performing the respective motions.

"Since the operator is able to visually operate the medical device through all kinds of controllable items for the medical device, the operator may operate the medical device in a more accurate way, because he can confirm whether the adjusted parameters or status shown on the GUI represent the desired commands at any moment.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention, the system may be activated by particular motion information of the operator or by pressing down an activation button on the system. The activation button on the system may be sterilized in advance so that the patient will not run the risk of infection.

"According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a medical device, which comprises an input device for receiving the control commands output by the system according to the present invention, and the medical device is characterized in that it can be operated in a dual-control mode.

"Specifically, the dual-control mode may include the conventional manual operation mode and the remote control mode. The medical device is different from conventional medical devices in that the operation mode thereof may be changed from conventional manual operation mode to remote control mode upon the reception of the control commands by the input device.

"According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a contactless remote control method enabling an operator to operate one or more medical devices in a contactless way, comprising the steps of:

"tracking the motion information of the operator;

"interpreting the motion information of the operator into operation information relating to the movement trajectory of a cursor in a GUI displayed on a display device or the confirmation of the selection of an item in the GUI where the cursor locates;

"operating the GUI in accordance with the operation information so as to generate control commands for the one or more medical devices; and

"outputting the control commands to the one or more medical devices.

"These and other objects of the invention will be apparent from the following description taken in connection with the drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The present invention will be described and explained hereinafter in more detail by means of embodiments and with reference to the drawings, in which:

"FIG. 1 shows the principle of the contactless remote control system according to the present invention;

"FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the contactless remote control system according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

"FIG. 3 is a flowchart of the contactless remote control method according to an embodiment of the present invention.

"The same reference signs in the figures indicate similar or corresponding features and/or functionalities."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Li, Junbo; Chen, Yinan; Zhang, Yunrong; Forbes, Zach. Contactless Remote Control System and Method for Medical Devices. Filed August 17, 2012 and posted July 17, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=201&p=5&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140710.PD.&OS=PD/20140710&RS=PD/20140710

Keywords for this news article include: Koninklijke Philips N.v.

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