Pioneering Leaps In Technology: From Heart Surgery To Virtual Reality

CHICAGO—(BUSINESS WIRE)—April 26, 2006— From virtual open heart surgery to a forehead retina system that could help the blind to fountains and gaming, the SIGGRAPH 2006 Emerging Technologies program will feature a broad range of installations from research labs, universities, independents, and industry giants that explore the possibilities of what might be the next layer of interplay between humans and digital systems.

SIGGRAPH 2006 Emerging Technologies received 110 submissions from 18 countries including Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Hungary, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and Canada. Only the most technically proficient and thought-provoking installations were selected by a panel of industry experts. A total of 36 technologies will be on display and available for interaction with attendees.

"It is inspiring that such depth of technology and creativity in human/computer interaction will take place in a region known for its great achievements in technology and research," commented Tom Craven, SIGGRAPH 2006 Emerging Technologies Chair recently retired from The Walt Disney Company. "This is truly pioneering work and we are excited to see the reaction in Boston."

Following are just a few highlights of this popular venue:

Virtual Open Heart Surgery: Training Complex Surgical Procedures in Congenital Heart Disease

Contact: Thomas Sangild Sorensen, University of Aarhus, Denmark

This is the first surgical simulator to fully utilize the GPU to achieve a significant computational speedup for complex heart surgery. Morphologically accurate models of congenitally malformed hearts were reconstructed from 3D MRI data and integrated in graphical settings representing the surgical environment.

Potential Future Use: For the first time, surgeons can rehearse open-heart surgery in a virtual environment, which will help accelerate their learning curve and improve patient safety.

Forehead Retina System

Contact: Hiroyuki Kajimoto, The University of Tokyo

A small camera and 512 forehead-mounted electrodes capture the frontal view, extract outlines, and convert the data to tactile electrical stimulation. The system is primarily designed for the visually impaired, but it can be a third eye for users with normal sight. The device will be perfected in the near future so that it can be used by a blind marathon runner in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

Potential Future Use: Provide the visually impaired an inexpensive, lightweight, and fully functional system that provides rich, dynamic 2D information.

Powered Shoes

Contact: Hiroo Iwata, The University of Tsukuba

A revolutionary advancement for entertainment and simulation applications that is a locomotion interface actuated by two motors with flexible shafts. This wearable device enables omni-directional walking while maintaining the user's position.

Potential Future Use: Expanding the horizon of virtual reality to advance education, training, entertainment, and research.

Perceptual Attraction Force: The Sixth Force

Contact: Tomohiro Amemiya, NTT Communication Science Laboratories

The first handheld, force-feedback device that is easily mobile and usable in multiple environments including outdoors. It can be embedded in cellular devices to create a new tool for communicating with gestures, guiding users along a path, teaching the perfect golf swing, dancing, and much more.

Potential Future Use: A GPS system that guides by force to your destination - could also be used to assist the visually impaired.

The Virtual Humanoid

Contact: Michihiko Shoji, NTT DoCoMo

An augmented-reality system that synchronizes a humanoid robot and a virtual avatar that allows the technology to be merged with many other technologies such as mixed reality, computer graphics, and artificial intelligence.

Potential Future Use: A sophisticated humanoid robot capable of fluid interaction.

The Huggable: A Therapeutic Robotic Companion for Relational, Affective Touch

Contact: Walter Dan Stiehl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Robotic Life Group

A new type of robotic companion inspired by pet-therapy research. Unlike current robotic companions, the Huggable features a full-body sense of touch; silent, smooth voice-coil actuators; and an embedded, networked PC. Furthermore, the Huggable's advanced "sensitive skin" technology is able to distinguish between petting, tickling, scratching, slapping, and many other tactile interactions. It is also capable of communicating (data and video) automatically with caregivers to provide feedback on the person's overall health.

Potential Future Use: Whether serving as a low maintenance companion or as an automatic medical communicator, the Huggable address a much needed void in the aging baby boomer population and the continued nursing shortage. Also, it could serve as a reassuring device for parents dependent on child care.

For more information on the SIGGRAPH 2006 Emerging Technologies, visit Please note, high-resolution images are also available.

SIGGRAPH 2006 will bring an estimated 25,000 computer graphics and interactive technology professionals from six continents to Boston, USA for the industry's most respected technical and creative programs focusing on research, entertainment, science, art, animation, gaming, interactivity, education, and the web from 30 July to 3 August 2006. SIGGRAPH 2006 includes a three-day exhibition of products and services from the computer graphics and interactive marketplace from 1-3 August 2006. More than 250 international exhibiting companies are expected. Registration for the conference and exhibition is open to the public.

ACM SIGGRAPH, the leading professional society for computer graphics and interactive techniques, sponsors SIGGRAPH 2006.

Brian Ban, 312-673-4818
fax: 312-673-6707 

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