VIRTUAL SURGERY: In a virtual surgery lab students have a chance to practice a wide variety of surgeries before facing real patients. Some simulators teach depth perception or eye-hand coordination, while others focus on techniques such as closing incisions or reconnecting two ends of a blood vessel. For minimally invasive surgery, the resident may look at a computer monitor while manipulating instruments extending into a black box. For practicing colonoscopies, some labs have human models that can detect the type of movement that would cause pain and respond with human-like sounds. The students who train at the virtual laboratory improve their speed, efficiency, and technique before operating on patients.
A HELPFUL HAND REST: Mechanical engineers at University of Utah designed a hand rest that stabilizes the wrist and reduces fatigue associated with making artwork, performing surgery, creating fine circuitry, and other tasks requiring a steady hand. The hand rest actually moves along with the motions of the hand, supporting its weight. By providing extra support and reducing fatigue, the hand rest improves efficiency and precision.
WHAT IS MOTION CAPTURE: Motion capture cuts the costs of computer animation while creating more natural movement. Such systems work by tracking the locations of hundreds of reflective balls attached to a human actor. This permits the actor's movements to be sampled by a camera many times per second. But the digital record is limited to movements and does not include the actual appearance of the actor. They are limited in resolution to several hundred points on a human face.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.