Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision

December 1, 2015, Washington University in St. Louis
Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision
This blurred X-ray illustrates how movement can affect X-ray images and require that further images be taken. A new imaging approach that incorporates Xbox gaming technology alerts X-ray technicians to factors that could compromise image quality, thus cutting down on the number of X-rays needed and, consequently, patient exposure to radiation. Credit: Steven Don/Washington University

With the aim of producing high-quality X-rays with minimal radiation exposure, particularly in children, researchers have developed a new approach to imaging patients. Surprisingly, the new technology isn't a high-tech, high-dollar piece of machinery. Rather, it's based on the Xbox gaming system.

Using proprietary software developed for the Microsoft Kinect system, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have adapted hands-free used for the popular Xbox system to aid radiographers when taking X-rays.

The software coupled with the Kinect system can measure thickness of body parts and check for motion, positioning and the X-ray field of view immediately before imaging, said Steven Don, MD, associate professor of radiology at the university's Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. Real-time monitoring alerts technologists to factors that could compromise image quality. For example, "movement during an X-ray requires retakes, thereby increasing radiation exposure," Don said.

A feasibility study will be presented Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago.

"The goal is to produce high-quality X-ray images at a low radiation dose without repeating images," Don said. "It sounds surprising to say that the Xbox could help us to improve medical imaging, but our study suggests that this is possible."

The technology could benefit all patients but particularly children because of their sensitivity to radiation and greater variation in body sizes, which can range from premature infants to adult-sized teenagers. Setting appropriate X-ray techniques to minimize radiation exposure depends on the thickness of the body part being imaged. High-quality X-rays are critical in determining diagnoses and treatment plans.

Xbox gaming technology may improve X-ray precision
Technology adapted from the Xbox gaming system may help technicians produce high-quality X-rays with minimal radiation exposure. Credit: Steven Don/Washington University

Traditionally steel calipers have been used to measure body-part thickness for X-rays. However, calipers are a "time-consuming, intrusive and often scary to kids, especially those who are sick or injured," said Don, a pediatric radiologist who treats patients at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

"To achieve the best image quality while minimizing , X-ray technique needs to be based on body-part thickness," Don said. The gaming software has an infrared sensor to measure body-part thickness automatically without patient contact.

"Additionally, we use the optical camera to confirm the patient is properly positioned," he explained.

Originally developed as a motion sensor and voice and facial recognition device for the Xbox gaming system, Microsoft Kinect software allows individuals to play games hands-free, or without a standard controller. Scientists, computer specialists and other inventors have since adapted the Xbox technology for nongaming applications.

Don and his colleagues, for example, combined the Microsoft Kinect 1.0 technology with proprietary software to improve X-ray imaging. With help from Washington University's Office of Technology Management, the team applied for a patent last year.

Don developed the technology with William Clayton, a former computer programmer at the School of Medicine, and Robert MacDougall, a clinical medical physicist at Boston Children's Hospital.

This year, Don and his colleagues have received funding from Washington University and The Society for Pediatric Radiology. They will use these resources to continue research with the updated Microsoft Kinect 2.0 and seek feedback from radiological technologists to improve the software.

While further research and development are needed, the eventual goal is to apply the technology to new X-ray machines as well as retrofitting older equipment.

"Patients, technologists and radiologists want the best quality X-rays at the lowest dose possible without repeating images," Don said. "This technology is a tool to help achieve that goal."

Explore further: Researchers use gaming technology to create better X-rays

Related Stories

Researchers use gaming technology to create better X-rays

December 1, 2015

Researchers have developed software for the Microsoft Kinect gaming console that measures body part thickness and checks for motion, positioning and beam adjustment immediately before X-ray imaging, according to a feasibility ...

Microsoft Kinect makes moves on computers

June 17, 2011

Microsoft on Thursday began letting software developers imbue computers with voice and motion-sensing technology from its Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 videogame console.

Microsoft to add Kinect Fusion to Kinect for Windows SDK

November 6, 2012

(Phys.org)—Senior Program Manager for Microsoft's Kinect for Windows, Chris White recently announced via a blog post that Kinect Fusion will soon be incorporated into the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK). ...

Recommended for you

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.