Microsoft’s Kinect is a smash hit in both the consumer and hacker worlds, but does it have a shot to make a splash in the realm of medicine?

Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, the Kinect is not being tested as a tool that doctors could interact with to execute any part of the actual surgery, meaning that no scalpels will be remotely driven. Instead it is being thought of as a fancy remote that a doctor could use in a surgical environment to interface with images needed for the operation.

In the current medical world, there is often a person in a surgical room who handles image work, forcing the doctor to interact with them to move the images and scans around on screens. This can create confusion and consternation.

With Kinect, if properly set up, the doctor themselves could move and focus the images with their hands. Why can’t the doctor just use the computer in the room? Because they have maintain a “scrubbed state,”‘ the colloquial term for sterility. If they touched a computer, they would have to scrub up again, and then again every time they moved an image. Kinect would let them do their own work, while staying clean.

Antonio Criminisi, who is working on the project, had this to say: “Our solution enables surgeons to wave at the screen and access the patients images without touching any physical device, thus maintaining asepsis.” If you were curious, asepsis means clean.

Thus far in the life of Kinect, most of the hacks that have been made using the device have been for fun, often involving light sabers. This medical concept is the most useful, and most interesting real-life use for the Kinect that we have come across thus far.

Kinect: coming to an open heart transplant near you? It just might be.