At the Robots and Avatars Forum, Pear Urishima from Apple flagged up the use of the iPhone in terms of health, explaining how doctors could monitor patients statistics in real-time right from their phone. She also showed images of how projections of x-rays and scans could be placed onto human bodies to allow doctors to operate more effectively and precisely. This introduction of the virtual into the health sector marks a significant development in how doctors will carry out their work in the future and highlights the skills that the doctors of the future need to be learning today.
How will this increase in information from benefit the specialised work that doctors and surgeosn do? Will the role of the doctor or surgeon develop to become based soley around virtual interaction and avatars rather than the physical ‘hands on’ approach? These questions are pertinet at South Miami Hosptial in the US where the year just 19 surgeons will be performing over 1,000 robotic surguries.
Since the programme began in 2007 the hospital has become one of the key locations for using robots in surgical procedures, which are known as the Da Vinci Surgical System. Dr. Jonathan Masel, a urologist in the Memorial Healthcare System who does surgery by open, traditional laparoscopic and robotic methods, is convinced the robot is the most precise.
“The more complex the procedure, the more I move to the robot. Its 3D optics are just like the movie Avatar.”
Even though there is still more work to be done in terms of scientifc studies regarding the use robots in surgery – to a layperson the developents are remarkable. The human surgeon sits at a computer console peering into a monitor that gives him or her a virtual view inside the patient’s body that is full-color, three-dimensional and magnified 10 times. Across the room, the robot’s four massive arms wield delicate surgical instruments inside the patient, carrying out the surgeon’s instructions with space-age precision.
“The robot is better,” says Dr. Ricardo Estape, a gynecological surgeon at South Miami Hospital who helped start its robotic program. “You can see what you’re doing so much better than even with open surgery. You can’t stick your head in somebody’s pelvis with open surgery when you’re doing a radical hysterectomy.”dvss-v2
“The robot is amazing,” says Dr. Lynn Seto, a cardiac surgeon who performed 450 robotic heart surgeries at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio before South Miami recruited her to help start its robotic heart program. “The view is so good you actually think you’re inside the body.”
Go for a walk around Second Life and you might well to bump into avatars wearing next to nothing or perhaps you might find yourself talking to a human sized dog. However with many companies and organisations using virtual worlds as a new workspace, the way that employees might present themselves as avatars is becoming increasingly important to consider. Analysts Gartner Inc. predicted that by the end of 2013, 70% of companies will have set behavior guidelines and dress codes for employees who use the remotely controlled online characters in business settings.
At the first Robots and Avatars Forum, Pear Urishima from Apple shared her visions of future jobs going beyond the presence of avatars in the future world of work, she placed emphasis on how we might manage the trustworthiness and credibly of avatars in the workspace and suggested the need for ‘Virtual Identity Managers’, who might manage an individual’s representation online. Click here to find out more about the Robots and Avatars Forum.