Xbox Kinect Respiratory Tool

Are Gaming Devices the future of respiratory measurement?

The Xbox is one of the most popular games consoles for consumers; and the addition of the Kinect feature has made the gaming world even more diverse. The Kinect’s main purpose is to act as a fitness platform for users, whilst keeping the fun and competitive nature which has made Xbox one of the world’s most successful gaming brands.

A press release from the University of Warwick explains how ‘Xbox Kinects could be used in the future to assess the health of patients with conditions such as cystic fibrosis. Normally found in the hands of gamers rather than medics, the Microsoft sensors could be used to assess the respiratory function of patients.’

Researchers at the University of Warwick, Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Birmingham and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust have developed a useful method of using the device. Four Kinect sensors are capable of quickly creating a 3D image of a patients torso which can enable physicians to measure and assess how a chest wall moves. This method will provide a more low-cost and comprehensive measurement of a patient’s breathing than existing methods (a patient breathing into a spirometer), and will provide additional information about the movement of the chest; which could help in identifying numerous respiratory problems.

The project lead and managing director of Evolyst, Dr Chris Golby at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, said: “We have developed a low-cost prototype which provides a more comprehensive measurement of a patient’s breathing then existing methods.”

Spirometry is the most common technique used to treat most lung diseases; it requires a patient to take a deep breath and exhale into the sensor as hard as possible. Although this practice has been used for a long time, it does have quite a few limitations. For instance, it doesn’t allow doctors to assess how different areas of each lung function, and can result in inaccurate readings of some breathing such as older people and children. Furthermore, those with muscle weakness or facial abnormalities are often unable to form a tight seal around the mouthpiece.

Dr Golby said: “For patients who report to A&E a quick and low-cost method of chest wall motion assessment is required. There are some conditions that doctors can’t detect or assess using spirometry such as collapsed lung segments or respiratory muscle weakness. However our prototype allows physicians to make accurate assessments.

“It is also potentially very useful in assessing changes in respiratory physiology that occur during exercise. This is in contrast with existing systems which rely on data from one viewpoint.”

Further information can be found in researcher's paper, and from the Warwick University press release.