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Using Kinect to map the human brain for neurosurgeons

The new Kinect Fusion API has allowed the team at Microsoft Research Cambridge to create an app that re-creates a 3D brain scan.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

The new Kinect Fusion API has allowed the team at Microsoft Research Cambridge to create an app that re-creates a 3D brain scan.

Makerbot has announced its new 3D scanner to great acclaim — but Microsoft has been experimenting with very similar technology since 2011. Kinect Fusion allows you to use a Kinect to scan in a full 3D model of anything that is standing still, and then use that blueprint for whatever you can think to do with it.

Now, Microsoft Research Cambridge (MRC) — the same team that brought KinÊtre, the software that allows you to animate anything — has created an app that builds a 3D model of a brain based on a scan of a person's skull.

Using a Kinect duct taped to a tablet, the team scanned a mannequin's head, mapping where the brain would sit inside the skull. As spokesman Ben Glocker explains in the video below, speaking to IEEE Spectrum at the Microsoft Research TechFest, the problem with MRI scans is that it can be tricky to translate the flat, 2D images to the operating theatre. MRC's experimental app could allow neurologists and neurosurgeons to work with a 3D model of the patient's brain, more easily working out the best ways to conduct surgery.

Kinect Fusion will be released with the next Kinect for Windows SDK.

Via spectrum.ieee.org