3D camera provides vision for centralized smart monitor system in intensive care units

Feb. 4, 2016
Fraunhofer researchers have developed a vision-aided smart "proxemic monitor" which optimizes and centralizes all of the vital processes going on within an intensive care unit.

Fraunhofer researchers have developed a vision-aided smart "proxemic monitor" which optimizes and centralizes all of the vital processes going on within an intensive care unit.

Monitoring all processes andmedical devices can be difficult within the intensive care unit. Because of this, Fraunhofer scientists sought to develop a system that optimizes all processes in the most sensitive area of a hospital, clearly shows the data from the connected medical devices, and avoids false alarms, all without having to directly touch the system.

"It‘s not easy to keep track of everything here during hectic situations," says Paul Chojecki, scientist from the Vision & Imaging Technology Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institute, HHI, in Berlin.

The proxemic monitor quickly shows physicians and nurses the most important information about the vital signs of their patients, and has a screen that interfaces to all of the medical equipment in the room, as well as with the information systems in the hospital, and can be controlled by contact-free gestures and voice commands.

A Microsoft Kinect3D camera enables the graphics of the system’s display adapt to the distance from which it is viewed by monitoring the area in front of the room. Two webcams and a microphone are also used to scan the area in front of the room. Using the video data, the HHI built-in software analyzes where people are in the room, how far they are from the screen, and what movements they are making. Depending on the distance, the display and functionality of the monitor changes.

"Our monitor distinguishes between near, medium, and further distance. The cameras cover a maximum distance of four meters," Chojecki explained. "From the medium distance, the cursor can be controlled with arm movements, and commands or short reports can be input by voice. With pre-programmed gestures, for example, a video call can be started, in order to have discussions with other physicians within or outside of the hospital."

He continued, "We have given the monitor eyes and ears so as to allow for multi-modal interaction between the user and the system. Our software records distances and movements of the user in a contactless manner, interprets them, and converts them into commands for operating systems or machines."

Benefits of the system are numerous, including the fact that it will prevent false alarms. The proxemics monitor evaluates the data of the connected medical devices based on the smart alarm design of the project partner, the Medical Engineering Department of Aachen University Hospital, thus preventing false alarms, which Chojecki says are a big problem, according to intensive care physicians. Additionally, without the need to touch devices directly, physicians and other healthcare providers will decrease the risk of spreading pathogens.

The device’s user interface is web-based, so it is suitable for use on mobile devices such as tablets. The scientists will demo the proxemics monitor atCeBIT 2016 this March, and will also conduct a practical test in cooperation with Uniklinik RWTH Aachen later this year.

Future planned developments for the system include an upgrade to the system’s vision system in the form of the integration of camera-based detection of users, as well as their roles and authorizations. As a result of this, according to Chojecki, information and control elements can be provided more easily to individuals who are authorized and denied to those who are not.

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About the Author

James Carroll

Since joining the team 2013, James covered machine vision and imaging from numerous angles, including application stories, industry news, market updates, and new products. In addition to writing and editing articles for each issue of the magazine, James managed the Innovators Awards program and webcasts.

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