A team of researchers at the University of Twente (UT; Enschede, Netherlands) is developing a smartphone technology based on the usage of simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and augmented reality (AR). This technology enables medical personnel to reconstruct 3D body sections quickly, only by holding the smartphone around the area of interest. This smartphone will display the augmented layers of the 3D skin surface to visualize invisible information for medical personnel.
"We would like to layer the information from the MRI and other vein scans (from sensor devices using laser speckle) and make them visible with augmented reality," says Beril Sirmaçek, one of the researchers involved in the work. This will allow doctors to see the inner body segments, tumors, veins, and the status of diabetic ulcers with the use of AR. This visual support enables doctors to oversee the situation better and make better decisions. In a biopsy situation, this visual support can help with guiding the robot arms to reach the tumor for biopsy at the first attempt, instead of taking the off-chance and reaching for the correct location by working with a patient for a whole day and making unsuccessful biopsy holes on the patient's body.
The augmented visualization of big data and the guidance with the smartphone application highly relies on SLAM technology. "When we started this project, our goal was to develop a SLAM box at the UT research group RAM (Robotics and Mechatronics)," Sirmaçek explains. "We can use our localization and 3D reconstruction software on different sensors and not only with the use of smartphones. Our vision will lead to many health applications, and other robotics applications will become more intelligent. With this technology, the algorithms quickly understand the 3D models of the surrounding objects, regardless of the imaging sensors which are used."
"SLAM is a core technology in robotics, but its universal usage will only be possible if we have methods to easily interface many sensors in a robotic system," says Stefano Stramigioli, chairman of the RAM group. "At RAM, we intend to create a modular SLAM box, which will automatically reconfigure itself if extra sensors are attached in a plug-and-play fashion. Then, it would be possible to connect this 'SLAM Box' to a complete robotic system, giving it powerful perception capabilities."
For more information, please visit www.ram.ewi.utwente.nl.