Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning better on 3D "patients"

Medical teaching software (such as iMedic,a program program creates a 3D X-ray that allows doctors to examine the body from every angle) exemplifies how the video gaming industry has penetrated academia. The Washington Post reported that several video game companies have switched from the entertainment industry to focus solely on what they call "serious games." Breakaway Games, just outside of Baltimore, has been developing training games for the last three years. Their clients include the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, and the Medical College of Georgia. 
"The sentiment to use games in learning has always existed," said Ben Sawyer, president of Digitalmill and co-founder of the Serious Games Initiative and one of its offshoots, the Games for Health Project. Flight simulators, computerized war games and practice space stations have been used for decades to train pilots, soldiers and astronauts. "What's changing drastically now is the capability to inject much more robust and usable applications in the form of video games and computer simulations into these environments like never before." 
At the University of Maryland Medical Center, Gyusung Lee, assistant professor of surgery, oversees a research project with similar goals but different means. In the lab where iMedic is run, Lee employs motion-capture technology -- used to create "Madden Football" and "The Lord of the Rings"-- to study the movements of experienced surgeons. A platform that functions like a large Wii Fit board captures a surgeon's every move. A vest and motion sensors are attached to the surgeon's body and arms. Video game developers use this method to record the movements of football and basketball players in creating a library of motions from which gamers can choose. 

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