Extending Telepresence & Telemedicine to Patients’ Homes

VIDYO conference between Doctor & Patient (on YouTube)

Jill bought a high-def webcam for her PC when it went on sale for $40 so she could make Skype video calls with Suzie, her daughter in Houston, and keep up with the two grandkids. Suzie has an Apple iPhone4, which came with FaceTime, but she had to install the free Skype app to talk with her mom. That’s because FaceTime and Skype don’t talk to each other.

Jill found video calls so engaging that she got her 85-year-old mom an iPad 2 so she could be included in the calls and see the great grandkids more often by video chat.

As I wrote in An iPad for All Ages, this is an ideal device for aging parents who have never used a computer. It’s also ideal for connecting with healthcare professionals, but not until different hardware platforms can be on the same call, including iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, television, and enterprise telepresence systems.

I wrote about Video Conferencing for Home Healthcare in March, described the various options, and complained of incompatibilities between systems. Now I’m happy to write this follow-up to say that solutions are on the way. Thanks to the readers who shared their personal experiences and inspired this article.

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New Uses for Microsoft’s Kinect Gaming Console

Futuristic computer interface from Minority Report, with Tom CruiseStereo cameras in Microsoft’s Kinect accessory for the Xbox 360 gaming console can see things in 3-D and enable gestures and body movement as human interfaces to video games, eliminating the need for handheld controllers. But hackers are finding other uses beyond gaming.

Within weeks of the device’s release last November, someone posted a $1,000 bounty to whoever posted the first open source Kinect device drivers, according to this Wired magazine article, and Kinect took off.

Microsoft was horrified at first, tried to stop the hackers, and even threatened to prosecute them. But as the company saw the many imaginary new uses, which its own engineers never envisioned, it shifted its stance and started a love affair with the hackers themselves. Now Microsoft openly recruits academic and hobbyist hackers and encourages Kinect hacking with its own software developer toolkit. Some of the many new applications relate to healthcare, and we’ll surely see more soon.