The Xbox Kinect in Healthcare

I saw a blog post on here a couple weeks ago about Microsoft and their Kinect gaming console.  The main idea of the article was that whether or not gaming consoles are sustainable as gaming on smart phones continues to increase rapidly.  I thought to myself that the Kinect has so much more potential than the “typical” gaming console where all you can do is play video games on a television screen while sitting on your couch.  So I thought I’d do a little bit of research and see what was out there, and I came across this article:


Healthcare has progressed pretty rapidly since our grandparents and even our parents were kids.  From the polio vaccine to face transplants, more can be done than ever thought possible before.  So how about bringing a video game console into the operating room or into a group therapy session?  Sound far-fetched?  Maybe it does, but it’s happening in Canada.  At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada, surgeons and other medical staff use the Xbox Kinect to browse patients’ files, test results, pictures, etc without ever having to touch a single foreign object.

When surgeons, doctors and nurses have to stop the medical procedure and touch a foreign object, the risk of contamination and infection increases.  By using the Xbox Kinect game console, the doctor can use his or her hand to flip through the pages of the patient’s electronic medical file.  This also saves valuable time for both the patient and the doctor.  This way the doctor does not have re-scrub his or her hands and arms before he or she can get back to the patient’s procedure.  That may be precious time that the patient does not have and cannot afford to lose.  It may free up the doctor’s time so that he or she can perform more procedures in a day and help save more lives.

Furthermore, Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer, announced that the Xbox Kinect can be used to help patients remotely with therapy sessions, both physical therapy and group therapy-type settings.  In fact, the Kinect’s sensors are so refined that the doctors can actually see facial expressions demonstrated by the patients!  An additional bonus is that the remote nature of the group therapy sessions allows people the anonymity to open up and be honest without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.


So does this mean that we will never have to take another day off work to go the doctor’s office?  I doubt it, at least for now anyway.  One thing to keep in mind is that the Kinect is an add-on to the Xbox 360, which will cost you $200 to $4001.  The Kinect is an additional $150.  And then there are add-ons such as the wireless adaptor, hard drive and annual memberships.  This may not seem like a very large investment for a doctor’s office or a hospital, but when you consider that each household would have to purchase these items, the cost savings of taking the day off of work and the transportation costs saved may not justify the investment of the materials purchase.

Another thing to consider is that technology is always improving.  So while the Xbox Kinect may be today’s “new developments in IT”, it could very well be surpassed by another company’s newer, better invention or even Microsoft’s (the maker of Xbox) latest and greatest model.

In summary, on an individual-basis for appointments such as therapy, the Xbox Kinect may not be a viable alternative to the “old fashioned” doctor’s office visit.  That said, if it helps decrease the risk of infection and contamination in a surgical setting, the Xbox Kinect is a low-cost investment for operating rooms everywhere.  It could also save doctors and patients valuable time, which is priceless in comparison.

So to respond to my original thought about the Kinect having a lot more potential than other gaming consoles, I believe the answer is yes, the Kinect is more than just for video games.  Some gaming consoles may become obsolete as smart phone gaming continues to increase in popularity, but I don’t think that the Kinect is one of them.  What do you think?



Ouya to Enter the Competition a Bit Later than Scheduled

For those of you that do not know, Ouya, by OUYA Inc., is the highly anticipated gaming console that is powered by Android. Ouya has raised approximately $8.5 million via Kickstarter, which became Kickstarter’s second highest earning project. The console sells for $99.

The launch of Ouya was originally planned for June 4th. However, its launch date has now been pushed back to June 25th. The delay is not that far off from the product’s original launch date, but it is a delay nevertheless. The company decided to delay the release of the console due to a high demand for the console. In order to meet the increased expectations for the console, they decided to delay the release by three weeks in order to produce more consoles, and to be able to have more units available in stores on its launch day.

Ouya also discovered a slight problem in regards to the design and placement of the buttons on the console’s controllers. The issue was that the buttons could get stuck under the faceplate. Although this was a minor design flaw, it can become a great problem when users get frustrated with the buttons sticking and getting stuck. Nothing is worse than an angry customer that is angry because of a product’s design flaw. The flaw was reported by some Kickstarter backers who received their consoles on March 28th and discovered the sticky buttons when trying the product out. After being notified of this issue, Ouya has implemented quite a simple solution which was to enlarge the button holes. This has already been implemented into production and the corrected controllers will be available for launch day with the consoles. Ouya stated that “If [Kickstarter] backers have a problem with their controller, we will work with them to resolve the issue via customer service.”

In my opinion, Ouya made a smart move in pushing back the launch date in order to put more hours into production so that more units of their product will be available when the consoles are officially released. Hopefully there will be enough units to not create another iPhone5 disaster in not having enough units ready to meet the consumers’ demands. Ouya is also quick to fix and implement the solution to a design flaw to their product, and provides great customer service in offering to work with those that run into problems with their controllers if they received a faulty one.

What do you think about Ouya’s decisions to push back their launch date for this highly anticipated product? What can other companies learn from Ouya when it comes to new products or services in the future? How do you think Ouya will fare in the market for consoles?

Joystiq – Ouya launch delayed to June 25, controller defect being fixed
Joystiq – Ouya: Joyqstiq takes a closer look
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