Friday, September 23, 2011

Sick bay uses high-tech imaging

While the exploitation of vision systems has made inspection tasks more automated, those systems have also reduced or eliminated the need for unskilled workers.

But such workers won't be the only ones to suffer from the onslaught of vision technology -- pretty soon even skilled folks in professions such as medicine might start to see their roles diminished by automation systems, too.

As a precursor of things to come, take a look at a new system developed by researchers at the Leicester University as a means of helping doctors to noninvasively diagnose disease.

Surrounding a conventional hospital bed, thermal, multispectral, hyperspectral, and ultrasound imagers gather information from patients. Complementing the imaging lineup is a real-time mass spectrometer that can analyze gases present in a patient's breath to detect for signs of disease.

Professor Mark Sims, the University of Leicester researcher who led the development of the system, said that its aim was to replace a doctor's eyes with imaging systems, and his nose with breath analysis systems.

Even though nearly all the technologies employed in the system have been used in one way or another, Sims said that they have never all been used in an integrated manner.

Clearly, though, if this instrumentation were coupled to advanced software that could correlate all the information captured from a patient with a database of known disease traits, one would have a pretty powerful tool through which to diagnose disease.

The doctors, of course, would then have to find something else to occupy their time. But just think of the cost savings that could be made.

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