What has the ATTRACT seed funding enabled you to do so far?
- Bringing a team together with multiple skills: surgeons, scientists, hardware and software specialists… all having the same objective to realise a demonstrator to show the principles of this breakthrough idea to make surgery safer for the patients and more efficient.
- This team takes this great opportunity to continue the pre-work that was done for the 6 years before, with a demonstrator as tangible result.
- Many different steps have been made in 8 months:
- Special RGB-NIR camera system been bought and a full test set-up been made for recording many tissues.
- Development of dissection protocol and executing measurements of pig nerves tissue material in comparison to human nerve tissues. To finally define nerve tissue fingerprint in NIR.
- Development on imaging software to detect nerve tissues in Near Infrared area to finally put this information as an overlay on the 3D RGB image real time for the surgeon.
- Development of machine learning algorithms to get the right data almost real-time
- Testing and optimising with different Light sources (RGB and NIR) resulting in a pulsing dedicated NIR Led array.
- Development of a demonstrator (in process) to visualise in a clear and natural way how it works if a surgeon has to do an assignment with the head worn system enabling him/her to see things that you normally the human eye cannot see.
What challenges have you faced so far?
- Finding the right components (camera, lenses, light sources, etc) and get support from the suppliers on specification and software.
- Real challenge is to keep the momentum, as getting this all done in 12 months is tough. This working method is unusual for most as there is normally much more time. It requires excellent team work and communication.
- Dealing with animal material and activities in a hospital requires good planning and following many protocols.
- First recorded images of tissues were very disappointing because of the camera chip performance, which is to general. But after several months now due a lot of imaging software and algorithms the results are very satisfying.
Where does your ATTRACT journey go from here?
The entire team is very confident in the team itself and that they have a unique solution to make surgery safer and more efficient and will continue the project anyhow, but speed and progress will depend on future funds (hospital/university funds, grants, contribution companies).
Sum up in two sentences the advantages of the ATTRACT Programme over other research funding schemes.
Due to 100% funding and simple administration procedures, the team is fully result focused without many negotiations. Short lead time of 12 months forces the team to go full speed, which generates fun and unique results in just few months.