Intern Voice: Kinect-ing the dots in healthcare by Yen Ho

Being an intern at Microsoft comes with exciting opportunities to learn, experience and be constantly exposed to the latest and greatest technology (aka Microsoft products). One of them being the Xbox Kinect. I’ll admit I wasn’t a keen video gamer prior to my internship, but now I am slightly addicted to Kinect – and for more reasons than one.

You literally are the controller. Simple as that… there are no controllers because you (your head, hands, feet and all) are in control of the game, providing a gaming experience that amazes the young and old. I always drag another intern to play with me in the office or pull in family and friends at home to show them how our avatar replicates our every move. I am still fascinated with how the Kinect sensor works to capture your movements… it makes it easier for me to set up the game and simply have fun. I first tried Kinect Adventures which includes simple games where you pop bubbles and plug leaks that always amuse 22 year old interns (like me) after a long day of work. Similar to roller coasters in amusement parks, the Kinect sensor takes random pictures of you while you play… you may be jumping up in the air or swinging your arms like crazy, but they are “profile-pic-worthy”.

I’m now addicted to Kinect Sports and pretty much can spend an hour playing volleyball, bowling, soccer (and boxing when no one else is around)… in a way, it compensates for not having a bowling alley at home. While I still go to the gym to work out, I find it easier to stay home or at work and get fit through these games… you work up a sweat without even knowing it!

While most people would see Kinect solely as an entertainment device, I learn a few months ago that these systems are contributing to the healthcare industry with its’ controller-free movement sensor technology. CLICK (Child Life Interactive Computers for Kids) is a program where Microsoft Canada works with the Children’s Miracle Network to provide young patients with technology during their stay in the hospital. Other than providing children with Kinect systems for gaming and connection to their family and friends, doctors are also using Kinect for operational and therapy purposes. At Sunnybrook hospital, surgeons have built an application using the Kinect technology to control, move, and adjust x-ray imaging with a wave of their hand – working with the imaging while they’re operating and being more efficient with time.

I know that when I apply for co-op terms through my school, I look for organizations that are making real contributions… not only are they commended on their reputation within the industry and their products or services, but also for the consistent involvement in the community. For me, knowing the real-world impact Microsoft is making outside of the gaming industry with this technology shows how we want to enhance lives with our innovative solutions and products, and lead the way for more advancements in healthcare.

Yen Ho

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