While the Kinect accessory might have been designed for gaming in mind, many other industries, such as the medical industry, have found use for it. Well in the latest development, Microsoft has recent posted on its Health Blog that they believe that the Kinect could find a use in helping patients with Parkinson’s. While the Kinect will not be curing Parkinson’s, it can be used to facilitate telemedicine which is basically a form of home care where patients can receive instructions from their doctors while even at home. While there is equipment available for telemedicine, they tend to be pretty expensive, but with the Kinect designed to be a consumer product, its affordability will allow telemedicine to reach a wider audience.
Originally developed as a gaming peripheral, the Kinect has seen lots of success in other industries. The medical devices industry is a perfect place for a high tech gadget to be put to use. Now, Microsoft thinks the Kinect would be the perfect tool for telemedicine. Telemedicine is a form of home care where doctors use medical devices to give patients medical care in their home. Currently, doctors can use expensive machines to track the vitals of their patients, but maybe much more can be done using new technology. The Kinect may be at the forefront of telemedicine allowing doctors to communicate with patients and walk though therapy sessions using the Kinect. Specifically, Microsoft has developed a test program where people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease can preform tests and therapy from their homes. Fine motor tests such as tapping fingers, tapping feet, and rapid movement of the hands can be performed and analyzed using the Kinect sensor. Since the Kinect also has a camera, patients could have video conferences with specialists from around the world without leaving their home. The Kinect has a couple of advantages. First of all, it is much cheaper than most telemedicine devices because it was developed for the consumer gaming market where price is a huge factor. Also, the Kinect can be connected into a standard Windows PC to be used, and many patients may already have a capable computer. Finally, the Kinect is a consumer electronic so having one in plain sight does not suggest there is a health issue. Hopefully soon the same device used by children to play games can be used by the sick to get well.