US IGNITE: Exploring ultrafast networks for training surgeons using virtual reality based environments, NSF Computer and Networking Systems

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As part of a NSF / US Ignite initiative, Dr. Cecil and his students are investigating the creation of a Next Generation Network based Virtual Reality (VR) based simulation training framework that can be used by medical residents for training in orthopedic surgery.  Some of the networking techniques can be viewed as belonging to umbrella of smart cyber physical technologies and Internet-of-Things (IoT) based practises; they exploit the capabilities of Global Environment for Network Innovation (GENI)'s national test bed infrastructure.  Specifically, we have shown that the ultra-fast communication networks are effective in linking expert surgeons in different hospitals with medical residents at many geographically distributed locations. The high-definition multimedia streaming and haptic interfaces associated with the VR environment enable trainees to remotely observe, participate and practice surgical techniques using advanced Internet computing technologies and principles (including software defined networking SDN). We are collaborating with Dr. Miguel Pirela-Cruz (Texas Tech Health Sciences Centers) in El Paso as part of this initiative.  The use of such advanced cyber infrastructure also lays the foundation for reducing health care costs in hospitals and medical education programs.  It also is a precursor to the creation of smart cyber cities where the use of such advanced cyber physical tools will become commonplace.


A View of the Virtual Surgical Environment (left) & A Medical Resident Interacting with the Surgical Environment


Dr. Miguel Pirela-Cruz (an orthopedic surgeon) interacts with our network based surgical simulator using a haptic interface

We are working with Dr. Miguel Pirela-Cruz at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center (TTHSC) in El Paso, Texas.


View of the Virtual Environment for orthopedic surgery planning and simulation