Hexapods: Micro-precision Surgical Assistant for Minimal Invasive Surgery

October 19, 2011 2 comments

Minimal Invasive Surgery or (MIS) is one such important innovation in medical devices to present. There are many benefits that can be derived from a MIS procedure such as: smaller incision, smaller scar, reduced risk of infection and bleeding, less pain and trauma, and decreased length of hospital stay for recovery time.

The product shown below is called Spine Assist. It is an example of a minimal invasive surgical device designed for spine-related surgery.

“With the SpineAssist a spinal fusion intervention can be performed with only a couple small incisions compared to open surgery where a large incision potentially causes more muscle damage. The miniature size of the robot with no need for “line of sight” and its high accuracy simplifies the surgical procedure and minimizes the risk for screw misplacement. Since the robot is rigidly attached to the patient there is no need for a tracking coordinate system. The procedure using the SpineAssist only requires a few fluoroscopic images, adding reduced radiation exposure for the surgeon and the patient as an important benefit to the system.” -Faulhaber Miniature Hexapods

 

The software interface shown above provides the surgeon with pre-surgical planning with automatic fluoroscopic and CT image processing. Intervention, according to the Faulhaber website, using the SpineAssist consists of five steps namely: preoperative planning based on a CT scan of the patient’s spine; rigid fixation of the SpineAssist platform to the patient’s spine; positioning calibration by matching a fluoroscopic image of the bone mounted platform to the CT-image from the preoperative plan; rigid mounting of the SpineAssist robot to the platform; the robot guide arm is now ready to automatically position itself at the exact location according to the preoperative plan and serve as a guiding tool when the surgeon drills or performs some other intervention on the bone.

 

The image above shows a mounted SpineAssist platform during a surgical procedure. To present, this system has been used over 250 cases in hospitals all over the world. What robots can do… :D

Fit PC: The Hand-sized Desktop PC for Embedded Robotics

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment

From Raspeberry Pi to Chip PC and now Fit PC. Yes, it’s another tiny, hand-sized desktop computer. This thing boasts its green design as well at 7-Watts average power consumption, which is twice the greener Chip PC. It’s not as small and gamer friendly (remember the Quake 3 demo) as the Raspberry Pi but it can do things like controlling a hexapod. It’s the black box taped at the rear of the robot…cool!

There are several models of the Fit PC. There’s one that runs 2-GHz, 2-GB RAM, 250-GB hard disk and pre-loaded with Windows 7 Pro. And there’s a stripped down version named, Fit PC Value running 1.1-GHz, 1-GB RAM, attach your own hard disk and install your own OS. The downside is that the price ranges from US$279 to US$707 with the Value being the cheapest and the Win7 Pro as the most expensive. This one costs like a normal PC just made smaller to fit in the hood of a robot much like a beagle board. The difference though is that it’s a stand-alone personal computer when the robot demo is all over. :D

Hmm, still haven’t blogged on the plug computers so that’s on the list and then we’ll check the Android SDK for robotics support too. Soon we’ll be able to study which platform is best for what application. That’s where we’re heading.

Chip PC’s 3 Watt Green Palm Sized Desktop Computer

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

From Raspberry Pi to Chip PC, we look into yet another tiny PC of the size of an adult person’s palm. Chip PC’s selling point is not just its sheer compact size but more so its green design. Chip PC offers the world’s lowest power consumption desktop models, with an average power consumption of 3.5W at full working mode. This figure makes 40 Chip PCs running at maximum power for example AutoCAD equivalent to a typical desktop running at average power consumption of 150W. Chip PC thin clients are  the world’s lowest energy consumption computers by far.

The downside is price. The Chip PC costs around US$150 to US$350 depending on the model. There are currently four models as shown in the image below.

Chip PC

From left to right: Jack PC, Xtreme PC, Plug PC, EX-PC

These tiny computers can run Linux, Windows CE Embedded, Windows Embedded Standard 2009 or Windows Embedded Standard 7.

Blog Direction: From Project Samples to Project Applications Discussions

October 9, 2011 3 comments

So far, the content of this blog has been mostly about technology overviews like the PIC Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, etc., and sample projects I have been working on. What I am getting at is that I have not started sharing projects other than posting finished products. This blog is supposed to get new technology up and running so a lot of you readers out there looking to use such new technologies that I have been posting about could benefit from this blog as a starter’s guide – more of an inspirational that is.

My goal in writing this blog is to work on projects that will inspire others to work on by themselves and share unique applications and experiences so the technology grows as the people working on it increases. I want to build something that solves one problem but wouldn’t it be great if someone else picks up on what I did and uses it in a totally unique application?

So how do I plan to start this build-and-grow thing? First, I have to pick a specific application and a technology to solve it with – say I want to automate the lights inside a room by detecting if a person entered the room. Furthermore, I would like to monitor lights all over the house over my PC and I decided to use a microcontroller like Arduino to provide a wireless interface from the lights controller and the PC. Something like that has novelty and can potentially be extended to having an interface for all electronic / electrical appliance. The PC can be turned into an iPhone or Android phone, which is practically something that a user carries around all the time even outside of the house. Right there one can see that for example the light at the porch need not be left on when leaving the house and expecting to arrive in the evening. The Android can command that before arriving at home. Hmm, now what about the air conditioning unit? coffee maker?

I’m sure an automated / remote controlled household is not something entirely new but our approach to solving it is not initially as grand – we just wanted to automate lights.

=== R.I.P. Steve, may the next generation take on what you left ===

Raspeberry Pi, a $25 PC on a Stick

Yes, it’s a PC on a stick and is targeted to sell at $25 each. So all you need to complete the PC setup are the keyboard, mouse, monitor and dc power. And you’re ready to go! The Raspberry Pi is an ARM 11-based all-in computer that has a rich peripheral interface suite in a board slightly bigger than a credit card.

Raspberry Pi Alpha Board

This is the Alpha release. The target size for this board is the size of a credit card. So it’s quite a competitor for the Plug computers. Plug computers will get their turn in my next posts. For now, this Raspberry Pi is really easy to run and the peripherals easy to setup according to Alpha testers. And finally, It’s running Linux and is actually quite powerful – look their playing Quake 3 on it! :D

Atmega328 + 3-axial Accelerometer + XBee

October 8, 2011 2 comments

I’m adding this custom Atmel-based wireless sensing node equipped with an Atmega328, ADXL335 3-axial accelerometer and Digi’s XBee. The board can be flashed with an Arduino bootloader and programmed just like another Duemilanove or Pro. In terms of Arduino, this is a combined Arduino Pro, XBee shield and a third sensor board. The size of the board is a tiny 2.00″ x 2.15″. It’s DFM.

PCB Design Using Eagle CAD Software

October 2, 2011 1 comment

I am posting this one as an advertisement for my PCB design work. I have expertise in PCB design using Eagle CAD software. And I have some samples that I put up in this post. This is an interface circuit for the Arduino Mega 1280 for several applications. This is not a full custom PCB. Instead, this integrates several sensor and wireless communications modules for different applications.

It is made to fit the Arduino Mega as shown in the last photo.

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