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God, everything is so cool. Here’s a video of some dudes hacking a Kinect to perform surgery.

Microsoft’s Kinect may be a toy, but a new hack is giving it some serious skills: As an interface to the incredible robot surgeon da Vinci. It’s accurate enough to sew sutures.

We’ve seen several innovativebeautiful and downright freaky Kinect hacks so far, but we’ve never seen one with quite such a fascinating hint at the future: A researcher has wired upMicrosoft’s gaming toy, via an appropriate bit of interim hacked code, to the input interface of the da Vinci multi-armed surgical robot. This device, you may remember, is increasingly entering service as a genuine remote-presence surgical tool—it’s even been used to perform tricky prostate surgery. It’s a serious piece of million-dollar machinery, and marrying it with a gaming toy seems odd when people’s lives are potentially in play. So how does the hack work out?

The gesture-based controller even lets the operator insert a suture needle into a practice incision, and perform fine-motor movements like moving 6mm plastic rings between test spikes—emulating some of the ultra-precise tasks da Vinci’s surgical manipulator arms carry out when they’re actually inside a human body.

The trick in this hack was translating the three degrees of movement of the surgeon’s arms to control the six degrees of freedom of the robot’s own appendage. And then also dividing down the scale of the surgeon’s movements so that large swings of the hands were used to perform minute movements at the tip of the robot hand.

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