Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Exciting demos at the Children’s exhibit booth draw a crowd

Children’s National has a significant role in this year’s World Health Care Congress Middle East. We sponsored a large exhibit at the meeting. Our booth was also lucky enough to host two of the Sheikh Zayed Institute's external collaborators.

Our booth at the World Health Care Congress Middle East.

These partners stole the show. The first, MDA, designs robotic arms for use in space. They brought a demo of a robotic arm that can be controlled remotely and extremely precise--even a new user can quickly become adept enough to pick up small objects. The systems sends the user haptic cues, which means that a  virtual "sense of touch" is relayed to the user via the stick that is used to move the arm around. Ideally, this technology could be adapted to perform routine precise tasks, like sutures, in extremely small places. Visitors were able to use the robotic arm themselves to loop small plastic rings over a series of posts. It was a huge hit, and even made the local Abu Dhabi television.

MDA demonstrates its robotic arm technology that might be applied in pediatrics.

“We are looking forward to working with the Sheikh Zayed Institute and Dr. Kim to adapt the precision and accuracy of the robotics we use in space to pediatric surgery,” said Dave Caddell, Executive Vice President, MDA.

Additionally, we were able to display a set of virtual reality surgical simulation systems that Dr. Kim has worked to develop for the last few years. The system allows surgical trainees to view a virtual model of the 3D surface of target tissues and laparoscopic tools, in real time. It also has a force feedback haptic interface, meaning the tools are able to produce tactile cues that help the user know exactly where his or her tools are located within the body.

A video demo of the 3D simulation system.

Needless to say, having cool robotics technology for people to try really made a big difference in booth traffic. Abu Dhabi TV, local news, reported that the team within the Children’s National booth had the most lively booth in the exhibit hall, and there were frequently crowds gathered around the technology. Though these technologies are still under development, seeing the current designs through video and interactive demos allowed conference go-ers to imagine all the interesting possibilities of applying these "space age technologies" to children's surgery.