A New Dimension
in Diagnostics Innovative control technology offers medical professionals and technicians the potential to do much more
with diagnostic imaging equipment. This article looks at intuitive controls that can be used for radiological
applications that offer an interface much closer to familiar consumer devices.
By Robert Kerner, R&D Manager, Grayhill
Medical imaging technology has de- veloped at an incredible speed, but imaging technicians and physicians
are still using a mouse and keyboard to manipulate complex ultrasound, CT, and MRI
images in 2D.
professionals are able
to maneuver images in
3D and view them from
any perspective, they’re
making the most of
the modern diagnostic
available to them.
Moving, turning, or
viewing an object in the
physical world is intuitive. But when diagnostic imaging equipment is
involved, health professionals have to remember how to complete
certain tasks and actions.
Does selecting an option
from a menu require a single click or double
click? Does rotating an image call for turning
a dial or using the touchball?
The same controls have been used for
years to interface with diagnostic imaging
equipment. But brand new technology offers
healthcare professionals and technicians the
capability to do much more with the images
this equipment captures. Through human gestures, touches, and motions, a whole host of
information can be conveyed intuitively with
a single device that tells diagnostic imaging
equipment how to operate and what to do.
Time for New Technology
Due to the wide adoption of smartphones,
tablets, and other mainstream touchscreen
electronics, the broader population is now
familiar with the use of gestures to accomplish a task.
To bring this technology into the world of
diagnostic imaging, multi-touch human inter-
face devices (MT-HIDs)
are now being integrated
into medical equipment
to read finger gestures
and movements just like
iPhones or touchscreen
While an MT-HID
tracks finger movements
on the touch surface,
a software library is
needed to interpret the
gestures. The sensor data
created from the device
touchpad is typically
fed to an application or
operating system where
the software translates
the tracked data into a
command. The software can be modified so
that the equipment designer and, in some
cases, healthcare professionals, can set which
gestures are recognized, and what commands
those movements and gestures trigger.
To be competitive, any new interface for
diagnostic imaging equipment must include
the ability to operate in a virtual 3D work-space. The latest ultrasound, MRI, and CT
systems are all capable of producing 3D
representations. The best MT-HIDs and their
software can be set to operate in 3D mode,
allowing the user to manipulate objects with
Figure 1: The best MT-HIDs and their software can be set to operate in 3D mode, allowing the user to manipulate objects with
six degrees of freedom (commands along
the X, Y, and Z axes, as well as rotations
around each of these axes).
To bring touch technology into the world of di-
agnostic imaging, multi-touch human interface
devices (MT-HIDs) are now being integrated
into medical equipment.
six degrees of freedom. This means that the
software can translate movement from the
touchpad into commands along the X, Y, and
Z axes, as well as rotations around each of
these axes (Figure 1).
Depending on how the technology is integrated into diagnostic imaging equipment, the
touchpad device and software can be used to
perform a variety of functions, such as:
• Image viewing
• Image rotation and manipulation
• Menu selection