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Top 5 Kinect Hacks


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Robotic Surgery Assistant
Robotic surgery suites like this one may soon add a Kinect to their arsenal of tools.
Robotic surgery suites like this one may soon add a Kinect to their arsenal of tools.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to perform surgery? How about performing surgery without your sense of touch? Doctors do it every day with the use of robotic surgical tools. This Kinect hack adds a new level of precision to the robotics-assisted operating room.

Graduate students at the University of Washington are developing a force-feedback device for surgeons performing procedures with robotic tools. While robotics-assisted surgeries are not a new concept, there has always been a problem: Doctors using the instruments don't receive tactile feedback from their equipment. During non-robotic surgeries, doctors employ their sense of touch to guide their movements; in the minimally invasive robotic procedures, they've always had to rely on cameras.

This ingenious hack uses the Kinect to map virtual force fields around the vital organs of patients, preventing accidental incisions, adding a new layer of safety and providing surgeons with improved, real-time feedback as they work. In addition to advancing the field of robotic surgery, this enhancement also saves thousands of dollars, as other options are estimated to run around $50,000 [source: Dunn].

Does the thought of surgery make you squeamish? Fear not! The next hack is nothing but fun.