Selectively controllable heads-up display system
Systems and methods are disclosed for displaying data on a head's-up display screen. Multiple forms of data can be selectively displayed on a semi-transparent screen mounted in the user's normal field of view. The screen can either be mounted on the user's head, or mounted on a moveable implement and positioned in front of the user. A user interface is displayed on the screen including a moveable cursor and a menu of computer control icons. An eye-tracking system is mounted proximate the user and is employed to control movement of the cursor. By moving and focusing his or her eyes on a specific icon, the user controls the cursor to move to select the icon. When an icon is selected, a command computer is controlled to acquire and display data on the screen. The data is typically superimposed over the user's normal field of view.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The inventions relate to electronic display systems and control systems therefor. More particularly the inventions relate to selectively operable heads-up display systems for presenting information and/or image(s) to the user. In its preferred form, the heads-up display is configured for use by medical technicians or personnel, such as surgeons performing an operation.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A heads-up display is generally defined as an electronically generated display containing information or data that is superimposed on an observer's normal field of view. As explained in greater detail below, heads-up display (“HUD”) systems have been used in various applications. One such application is for use by pilots of aircraft. In the typical aircraft HUD system, a semi-transparent display screen is located generally in front of the eyes of the pilot (i.e. a screen mounted on the pilot's head or helmet, or in the view of the aircraft windshield). Such a system enables a pilot to concentrate on the difficult tasks associated with flying the aircraft, without diverting his attention to scan or examine a wide array of instruments.
It is also well known that medical technicians or personnel, such as surgeons, must keep track of many different types of information during an operation. For example, a surgeon must carefully view or monitor the physical surgery while simultaneously monitoring a patient's condition (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, pulse, etc.). In addition, depending on the procedure, the surgeon must also monitor the status and settings of surgical equipment and tools. Although the additional information is necessary and important, monitoring such information often diverts the surgeon from the immediate task at hand.
Some surgical operations require that the surgeon divert his eyes to view a video monitor, for example, when performing highly complex laser or internal surgery conducted through scopes. See U.S. Pat. No. 5,222,477, which discloses an endoscope or borescope stereo viewing system. In addition, the surgeon may from time to time need to refer to data, such as defined by a patient's recorded or written history, or to previously taken x-rays or other computer generated images (e.g., CAT, NMR, 3D, etc.). For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,452,416 discloses an automated system and a method for organizing, presenting, and manipulating medical images for viewing by physicians. See also U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,251,127 and 5,305,203, which disclose a computer-aided surgery apparatus that positions surgical tools during surgery or examinations. In each of the above-described systems, in order to view the displayed information, the surgeon must divert his or her eyes to a remote monitor.
Thus, surgeons use many different types of displays and must continually monitor many different sources of information. However, as more tools and sources of data become available to surgeons for use during operations, more opportunities for distraction arise. It is difficult for a surgeon to focus on his or her conduct during a surgical procedure while also continually shifting focus away from the patient to other monitors or indicators. Therefore, a need exists for conveniently, efficiently and accurately displaying to a surgeon various types and sources of information, views, and images of a patient undergoing a critical medical procedure. As explained in greater detail below, prior attempts in the medical field to fulfill that need have been unsatisfactory.
For example, video signal sources have been adapted to scan views or images for different types of medical uses and applications. U.S. Pat. No. 4,737,972 to Schoolman (“Schoolman I”) discloses a head-mounted device that provides stereoscopic x-ray images. Furthermore, U.S. Pat. No. 4,651,201 to Schoolman (“Schoolman II”) discloses an endoscope that provides stereoscopic images of the patient on a display. Both Schoolman I and Schoolman II allows for the selective transmission of other video data to the display. However, Schoolman I and Schoolman II do not use a “see through” display that allows the surgeon to monitor both the environment around him and the video image. If the surgeon wishes to monitor or view the real-world environment, as opposed to the displayed graphics, the head-mounted display must be removed.
Efforts have also been made to use head-mounted displays in augmented reality simulations for medical applications wherein a desired image or three-dimensional model is superimposed on the real scene of a patient. For example, it was reported that a research effort in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina has attempted to develop a see-through head-mounted display that superimposed a computer-generated three-dimensional image of the internal features of a subject over the real-life view of the subject. Information describing those research efforts may be found on the World Wide Web in a document maintained by Jannick Rolland at the site on the World Wide Web Pages of the NSF/ARPA Science and Technology Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (http://www.cs.unc.edu/˜rolland, cited February, 1996, copies of which are included in the information disclosure statement that has been filed concurrently with this application). That World Wide Web site in turn referenced the following publication: A. R. Kancheral, et al., “A Novel Virtual Reality Tool for Teaching 3D Anatomy,” Proc. CVR Med '95 (1995). Other research efforts at the University of North Carolina attempted to use a video see-through head-mounted display and a high-performance computer graphics engine to superimpose ultrasound images over the real view of the subject, thereby allowing a user to “see within” the subject. A set of trackers captured the motion of the body part with respect to the field of view of the user, and a computer updated the position of the body part in real time. The computer attempted to correlate the “tracked” position of the body with the three-dimensional model and to display the model on the heads-up display in a manner that gave the appearance of “x-ray vision.”
In the above-described University of North Carolina research efforts, the focus was primarily to help teach students by superimposing a single computer-generated image over a moving, real-life, image of a subject. However, as explained in the associated literature, the “tracking” requirements made the research effort quite complicated, and the results appeared less than satisfactory. Moreover, such a teaching system is not applicable to the real-world environment of a surgeon, where the patient is not moved (and “tracking” is unnecessary), and where the surgeon needs or desires other information to be made readily available for viewing.
Still another research program associated with the University of North Carolina is described in Fuchs, et al., “Virtual Space Teleconferencing using a Sea of Cameras,” Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery (Pittsburgh, Pa, Sep. 22-24, 1994). That article describes research efforts that attempted to use a multitude of stationary cameras to acquire both photometric and depth data. The acquired data was purportedly used to construct a remote site in accordance with the head position and orientation of a local participant. According to the article, each participant wears a head-mounted display to look around a remote environment having surface geometries that are continuously sensed by a multitude of video cameras mounted along the walls and ceiling, from which cameras depth maps are extracted through cross-correlation stereo techniques. Views acquired from several cameras are then displayed on a head-mounted display with an integrated tracking system to provide images of the remote environment. The explained purpose of the effort was to duplicate, at a remote location, a three-dimensional virtual reality environment of a medical room. However, the article does not disclose the use of see-through displays providing a surgeon with the ability to select and display additional forms of data, or to superimpose data over a real-life view of the patient or surgical site.
Another type of head-mounted display is described in Yoshida, et al., “Optical Design and Analysis of a Head-Mounted Display with a High-Resolution Insert,” Proc. SPIE 2537 (1995). That article describes yet another research program associated with the University of North Carolina in which a small area of a high-resolution image is inserted on a large field of a low resolution image displayed on a head-mounted screen. The system is described as using eye-tracking information to dynamically place the high resolution insert at the user's gaze point. The system purports to provide the user with both high-resolution imagery and a large field of view. In essence, using eye-tracking electronics, the “inserted image” corresponding to the user's gaze point is converted from low resolution to high-resolution. However, as above, the user can not select additional or alternative forms of data or different images to be superimposed over the primary image on the head-mounted display.
Thus, few head-mounted displays have been developed for the medical industry, and all those described above have had limited purpose and utility. On the other hand, and as discussed briefly above, a wide variety of head-mounted devices are commonly used in military applications. As mentioned, aircraft pilots, tank commanders, weapon operators and foot soldiers have all used head-mounted displays to display various forms of weapon or image information along with other data defining the real-world environment of the person wearing the display. For examples of such systems, see the following U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,028,725; 5,281,960; 5,000,544; 5,227,769; 4,994,794; 5,341,242; 4,878,046; 3,940,204; 3,923,370; 4,884,137; 4,915,487; and 4,575,722. Likewise, helmet or head-mounted displays have also been used for motorcycle riders. U.S. Pat. No. 4,988,976 discloses a motorcycle helmet that displays data or information such as speed, time, rpm's, fuel, oil, etc. on the transparent visor (i.e. vacuum fluorescent display) of the rider. Head-mounted displays that are worn in front of the user's eyes or worn as eye spectacles also exist. For example, see the following U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,129,716; 5,151,722; 5,003,300; 5,162,828; 5,331,333; 5,281,957; 5,334,991; 5,450,596 and 5,392,158.
The field of virtual reality also has driven advances in the use of various types of head-mounted displays. For example, see the following U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,636,866; 5,321,416; 5,347,400; 5,348,477; 5,406,415; 5,414,544; 5,416,876; 5,436,765; 5,479,224; 5,473,365; D363,279; 5,485,172; 5,483,307; 5,130,794. See also the publication How Virtual Reality Works, by J. Eddings (Ziff-Davis Press, Emeryville, Calif., 1994), and the site maintained by Rolland (referenced above) relating to telepresence systems and augmented reality.
Advances have also been made in the area of heads-up displays or screens that are not attached to or worn by the user. Most commonly, such systems are employed in automotive or military environments, to provide vehicle performance, weapon status, and other data for the driver or pilot. For examples of such systems, see the following U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,278,696; 4,652,870; 4,711,512; 4,729,634; 4,799,765; 4,927,234; 4,973,139; 4,988,976; 4,740,780; 4,787,711; 4,740,780; 4,831,366; 5,005,009; 5,037,182; 5,231,379; 4,824,228; 4,763,990; 4,669,810; 4,688,879; 4,818,048; 4,930,847; 4,932,731; 5,198,895; 5,210,624; 5,214,413; 5,302,964; 4,725,125; 4,188,090; 5,028,119 and 4,769,633.
Numerous advances have occurred in the specific forms of, and materials used in, heads-up display systems. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,987,410 and 4,961,625 (use of Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs)); U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,108,479 and 5,066,525 (laminating glass plates or panels); and U.S. Pat. No. 5,457,356 (making a flat panel head-mounted display).
Also pertinent to this invention is the field of eye-tracking to control various computer or imaging functions. Various systems unrelated to the medical field have used eye-tracking for controlling a field of view. For example, see U.S. Pat. No. 4,028,725, which discloses an eye and head tracking system that controls a beam-splitter and retains the high-resolution part of the image in the field of view. The eye-tracking is carried out by infrared detection (i.e. see U.S. Pat. No. 3,724,932). See also U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,287,437; 4,439,755; 4,349,815; 4,437,113; 4,028,725 (referenced earlier) and the article “Optical Design and Analysis of a Head-Mounted Display with a High-Resolution Insert,” referenced above, particularly at footnote 19, which refers to the Eye-tracking Systems Handbook, Applied Science Laboratories, Waltham Mass. (1992).
Finally, video recording systems for recording scenery and heads up displays have been taught by the prior art. U.S. Pat. No. 5,241,391 to Dodds (“Dodds”) discloses a video camera system that records scene conditions and heads-up displays.
Notwithstanding the large number of articles and patents issued in the area of heads-up or head-mounted displays, there has been no such display that is designed for the special needs of individuals performing detailed but critical tasks on relatively stationary subjects. Such a system would be extremely useful to personnel working in the fields of medicine, forensics, and micro-electronics.
Presently, there is a need for a selectively operable, head-mounted, see-through viewing display system for presenting desired information and/or images to a user, while at the same time allowing the user to view the real-world environment in which he or she operates. There is a further need to provide a convenient selectable viewing system that can be easily controlled by an eye-tracking cursor and speech recognition to control different images or displays on a videomonitor or to control a field of view, while keeping the user's hands free to conduct precision operations.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide an improved heads-up display system.
It is another object of the invention to provide a “hands-free” heads-up display system that is useful to individuals performing detailed procedures, such as those working in the fields of medicine, forensics, micro-electronics, biotech, etc.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved head-mounted display that allows the user to view both the subject and selected data.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display that includes a user-friendly interface to a command control computer.
It is another object of this invention to provide an improved heads-up display that interfaces with a command control computer and includes an eye-tracking cursor to select menus to control computer performance and the display of data.
It is another object of this invention to provide an improved heads-up display that interfaces with a command control computer and includes a speech recognition circuit to control computer performance and display of data.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display that can be positioned between a surgeon and a patient in the surgeon's line of sight.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display that allows the user to view the subject while simultaneously monitoring the output from a number of different information sources, including imaging devices and remote or networked computer systems.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display that allows a medical technician to control medical imaging devices to obtain images of select parts of a patient and to display those images on the heads-up display.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display that allows a user to control a computer to acquire and display data defining a subject's history while simultaneously viewing the subject.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method for conducting surgery on a patient while simultaneously obtaining access to and conveniently displaying on a heads-up display a variety of types of data relating to the patient.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method of controlling a heads-up display by employing a “point-and-click” type user interface and cursor controlled by tracking movement of the eye.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method of controlling a heads-up display by employing speech recognition, both alone and in combination with an eye-tracking cursor.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display system that allows the user to control tools or instruments in a hands-free manner.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display system that allows a surgeon to control surgical tools or other instruments in a hands-free manner.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved heads-up display maintained in an eyepiece of a scope or instrument and that is controlled with integral eye-tracking and speech recognition systems.
The above and other objects are achieved in an improved, selectively controllable system for presenting desired data on a head-mounted (or “heads-up”) display. The system includes a command computer processor for receiving inputs that represent data and for controlling the display of desired data. The computer communicates with and controls the heads-up display system, which is configured to display the desired data in a manner that is aligned in the user's field of view. The heads-up display includes a user interface incorporating “hands-free” menu selection to allow the user to control the display of various types of data. In its preferred form, the hands-free menu selection is carried out using an eye-tracking cursor and a speech recognition computer to point to and select specific menus and operations.
The above and other objects are also achieved in an user-controllable heads-up system for presenting medical data to a physician. The system includes a command control computer for receiving inputs defining medical data and for controlling the display of that data on a head's-up display screen in the normal field of view of the physician. The heads-up display provides the physician with a “user interface” including menus and associated operations that can be selected with an eye-tracking cursor. The system also includes a microphone and speaker so that a physician can communicate with other personnel and computers both locally and remote from the cite. The command computer includes a speech recognition processor to respond to spoken commands of the physician. The command computer also communicates with and receives a wide array of data from other computers networked therewith. The physician can select the specific data to be displayed on the screen. In addition, the physician can, with the eye-tracking cursor, control various medical imaging devices.
The above and other objects are also achieved in a method of selectively displaying multiple forms of data on a head-mounted display. In accordance with the method, a see-through computer display screen is mounted on a head piece that is worn by the user. A command computer controls a user interface so that command icons or menus are displayed in a super-imposed manner on the see-through, head-mounted display, thereby allowing the user to see both the normal field of view and the user interface. The user interface is provided with a “point-and-select” type of cursor. An eye-tracking system is integrated with the command control computer and the user interface to monitor the user's eye movement and to correspondingly control movement of the cursor. The user selects various computer operations from menus contained in the user interface by moving the eye-tracking cursor to selected menus or icons. By using the eye-tracking cursor to select various computer operations, the user can control the command computer to selectively display on the see-through HUD screen numerous items of data or images, while still seeing the normal field of view.
The preferred embodiments of the inventions are described below in the Figures and Detailed Description. Unless specifically noted, it is the intention of the inventors that the words and phrases in the specification and claims be given the ordinary and accustomed meaning to those of ordinary skill in the applicable art(s). If the inventors intend any other meaning, they will specifically state that they are applying a special meaning to a word or phrase.
Likewise, the use of the words “function” or “means” in the Detailed Description is not intended to indicate a desire to invoke the special provisions of 35 U.S.C. Section 112, ¶ 6 to define his invention. To the, contrary, if the provisions of 35 U.S.C. Section 112, ¶ 6 are sought to be invoked to define the inventions, the claims will specifically state the phrases “means for” or “step for” and a function, without also reciting in such phrases any structure, material or act in support of the function. Even when the claims recite a “means for” or “step for” performing a function, if they also recite any structure, material or acts in support of that means of step, then the intention is not to invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. Section 112, ¶ 6. Moreover, even if the inventors invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. Section 112, ¶ 6 to define the inventions, it is the intention that the inventions not be limited only to the specific structure, material or acts that are described in his preferred embodiments. Rather, if the claims specifically invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. Section 112, ¶ 6, it is nonetheless the intention to cover and include any and all structures, materials or acts that perform the claimed function, along with any and all known or later developed equivalent structures, materials or acts for performing the claimed function.
As a primary example, the preferred embodiment of this invention is configured for use by a surgeon performing an operation on a patient. However, the invention is equally applicable to any environment in which the user is conducting precision or detailed procedures with his or hands on a relatively stationary subject, and where the user would find it advantageous to see data superimposed over the normal field of view. The potential applications are too numerous to mention, but would include forensics, microelectronics, biotechnology, chemistry, etc. Thus, even though the preferred embodiment refers to use by a surgeon, and to the acquisition and display of medical data, its applicability is much broader, and the claims should be interpreted accordingly.
Further, the description of the preferred embodiments make reference to standard medical imaging devices that are used to generate images to be displayed on the heads-up display. The disclosure specifically references several examples of such devices, including video cameras, x-ray devices, CAT and NMR scanners, etc. However, numerous other medical imaging systems are well known to exist, and most likely, numerous improved imaging devices will be developed in the future. Thus, the present invention does not depend on the type of imaging device that is implemented. The inventions described herein are not to be limited to the specific scanning or imaging devices disclosed in the preferred embodiments, but rather, are intended to be used with any and all applicable medical imaging devices. Likewise, the preferred embodiments depicted in the drawings show a single generic imaging device mounted on a manipulator arm. Numerous other tool and manipulator configurations, and multiple imaging devices, can be substituted for the single device.
Further, the specification in some places refers to several computers or controllers that perform various control operations. The specific form of computer is not important to the invention. In its preferred form, applicant divides several of the computing, control and analysis operations into several cooperating computers or embedded systems. However, with appropriate programming well known to those of ordinary skill in the art, the inventions can be implemented using a single, high power computer. Thus, it is not the intention to limit the inventions to any particular form or any number of computers, or to any specific computer network arrangement.
Likewise, the detailed description below shows at least two embodiments for the display screen. The preferred embodiment discloses the display screen mounted on the head of the user. The second embodiment shows the display screen positioned between the user and the subject, in a manner that is not mounted upon or supported by the head of the user. Additional embodiments also exist, and need not be disclosed. For example, the first embodiment can be modified for use in the eye-piece of a scope of any form, such as used in micro-electronics, biotech, medicine, forensics, chemical research, etc.
Similarly, the specific arrangement of the icons and menus that appear on the HUD screen, and the associated operations performed by those icons and menu items, are a matter of choice for the specific application. Thus, the invention is not intended to be limited to the specific arrangement and contents of the icons and menus shown and described in the preferred embodiments. For example, the icons and menu items for a selectively controllable heads-up display used by a dentist would likely be different than the arrangement used for a micro-electronics engineer.
Further examples exist throughout the disclosure, and it is not the intention to exclude from the scope of the invention the use of structures, materials or acts that are not expressly identified in the specification, but nonetheless are capable of performing a recited function.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
The inventions of this application are better understood in conjunction with the following Figures and Detailed Description of their preferred embodiments. The various hardware and software elements used to carry out the inventions are illustrated in the attached drawings in the form of block diagrams and flow charts. For simplicity and brevity, the Figures and Detailed Description do not address in detail features that are well known in the prior art, such as the literature listed in the Background of the Invention, above. However, to assure an adequate disclosure, the specification hereby expressly incorporates by reference each and every patent and other publication referenced above in the Background of the Invention.
For convenience, the phrases “head-mounted display,” “heads-up display” and “HUD” are used interchangeably throughout this specification. The major components of the HUD system 10 as worn by the surgeon 12 include a display screen 14, microphone 16, speaker 17, display driver 18, camera 29, display mirrors 20 and 22, light 31, eye-tracking laser 24, eye-tracking detector 26, and eye-tracking optics 28. In its preferred form, each of these components are integrated into a single, adjustable head piece that is placed on the surgeon's head 30. Once placed on a surgeon's head 30, the various components are adjusted for proper operation. More specifically, the screen 14 is positioned comfortably in front of and in the normal line of sight of the surgeon's eyes 32, and the microphone 16 (placed in front of surgical mask 19) and speaker 17 are positioned so that the surgeon 12 can communicate with selected medical assistants and computers including an electronic speech recognition system, as discussed in greater detail below. The display driver 18 and display mirrors 20 and 22 are adjusted to superimpose selected images and data with light rays 4 from outside of HUD 10 on the display screen 14 via optical path 6. Likewise, the eye-tracking laser 24, eye-tracking detector 26, and eye-tracking optics 28 are aligned to detect and communicate eye movement to an eye-tracking computer, as also discussed below. In more compact versions of the head mounted display system discussed above and shown in
To simplify the disclosure, only one imaging input device 38 is shown in
In operation, the surgeon 12 can command the HUD system 10, under control of computer 36, to selectively display on screen 14 various forms of data, graphics or images, including magnified or otherwise modified images from the imaging input device(s) 38, while at the same time looking through the screen 14 to view the patient 34 and the normal, real-life environment of the operating room. Thus, the surgeon 12 is able to directly view the patient 34, while at the same time, select from many forms of data for display on the HUD screen 14. For example, if the surgeon 12 is performing surgery in close proximity to critical organs, the surgeon may wish to see both the movements of his or her hands, and a superimposed magnified view from one of the image input device(s) 38. The surgeon 12 can control the video device 38 to move to and focus on the critical area or surgical site, and to obtain and magnify and image for display on the HUD display 14. In addition, the surgeon can control the computer system 36 to record the generated images, and then to display on the HUD screen 14 selected parts thereof after being magnified or otherwise computer enhanced. In accordance with the invention, the surgeon 12 has the great advantage of being able to simultaneously control the HUD and data acquisition systems, while also looking through the HUD display 14 to watch minute hand movements and other aspects of the local environment.
As explained in greater detail below, the surgeon 12 may command the computer 36 in several ways. In the preferred mode, the HUD system 10 incorporates eye-tracking to control a curser that is displayed on the HUD screen 14. More specifically, as shown graphically in
Alternatively, or in combination with the eye-tracking curser 40, the HUD system 10 includes a standard speech recognition sub-system integrated with the command operations. Thus, the surgeon 12 can speak select speech commands or select words to select specific menus or to initiate computer operations to acquire and display select images or data. In the combined speech and eye-tracking mode, the surgeon can use his or her eye to move the curser 40 to a particular menu or icon, and then speak commands to perform various operations associated specifically with that menu or icon, such as obtaining or magnifying images, selecting particular parts of patient histories, etc.
As shown in
As discussed above, the surgeon may use the HUD system as a hands-free interface to control an imaging input device 38 (shown as a camera in
There are numerous types of sensor inputs 47 that will monitor the patient 34 and generate data of interest to the surgeon 12. Each such sensor 47 is considered old in the art, and operates to monitor and generate computer data defining the characteristics of the patient 34 in a manner well known to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, it is expressly noted that while several specific types of sensor inputs may be described in this specification, any and all types of sensor inputs 47 can be used, as long as the data is generated in a manner that is made accessible to the surgeon 12 by the command control computer 36.
The patient data base 48 includes any and all type of patient data that a surgeon may wish to access, including, for example, the patient's history and prior medical images. While the data base 48 is shown in
In its preferred form, the network 50 may access not only the standard hospital network, but also remote sites. In that manner, the surgeon 12 can access and communicate with other computers, expert systems or data devices (not shown) that are both local and remote from the surgeon's location. Likewise, specialists remote from the specific operating site may view the operation and communicate or consult directly with the surgeon 12. More specifically, the remote sites can selectively display the operation from any number of cameras in the operating room, and in addition, can selectively display and view the procedure with the same perspective of the surgeon 12 through the HUD display screen 14, using the head-mounted camera 29. In that manner, specialists at the remote sites will see what the surgeon 12 sees, including the view of the patient 34 and the data, menus, icons and cursor shown on the HUD display screen 14. In its preferred form, the video camera 29 is a remote controlled, high-performance camera that is mounted on the HUD gear worn by the surgeon 12 so that it can selectively view and transmit an image of the HUD screen 14 to the command computer 36, and if desired, to a remote site or storage device (e.g., disk or video tape) controlled thereby. As shown in
One use of the communication link 52 is to transmit to the command control computer 36 the input commands 54 generated by the surgeon 12. The surgeon 12 generates the input commands 54 in one or more of several alternative manners. Primarily, the commands 54 are generated when an eye-tracking system 56 detects the surgeon's eyes 32 focusing on selected icons or menu items displayed on the HUD screen 14. The icons and menu items then cause the initiation of a corresponding operation, as is common with standard icon-based user interfaces employed with computers running the Macintosh or Windows 95 operating systems. Alternatively, the surgeon 12 may generate the commands orally by speaking select words or commands through microphone 16. A standard voice recognition sub-system or computer 58 interprets the oral sounds output by the microphone 16, and generates digital commands 54 in accordance with well known speech recognition processes. These speech commands 54 are then passed to command control computer 36 through communication links 52. For more information on standard speech recognition systems, see C. Schmandt, Voice Communication With Computers, (Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY, 1994), and C. Baber et al., Interactive Speech Technolology: Human Factors Issues in the Application of Speech Input/Output to Computers, (Taylor and Francis, Pa., 1993), incorporated herein by reference. For more information on programming icon or menu based user interfaces, see J. Sullivan et al., Intelligent User Interfaces, (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, NY, 1991), incorporated herein by reference.
The communication link 52 is also responsible for routing video images from a camera and lighting system 49 configured on the HUD system. More specifically, the camera and lighting system 49 generate video information under control of the surgeon 12 for display on the HUD screen 14. Thus, using commands generated by speech or from the icon/menu system, the surgeon controls pan driver 65, tilt driver 67, magnification driver 69 and light 31 to focus upon selected scenes for imaging. The pan driver 65 controls pivotal movement in the horizontal direction by the camera while the tilt driver 67 controls the vertical pivotal scanning movement of the camera. The magnifier driver 69 controls the degree of zoom of the image input device 38. The camera drivers each control a respective servo-motor, stepper motor or actuator that moves or controls the associated camera parameter. In that manner, the surgeon can control the camera to focus upon and scan a particular feature (such as a tumor), and to generate and display on the HUD screen 14 highly magnified views thereof. In addition, the head mounted camera 29 can be controlled to scan the HUD screen 14 to generate, record and transmit to remote sites the view as seen by the surgeon 12. Although only one head mounted camera 29 is actually shown in the drawings, it should be understood that multiple cameras can be used, including multiple different types of cameras (such as video, television, infra-red), and that those and additional cameras may be controlled by other than the surgeon 12. Thus, the imaging input device 38 can either be controlled manually and/or automatically.
In addition to routing input commands 54, eye vector information from eye-tracking system 56, and data from image input device(s) 38 to the command control computer 36, the communication links 52 also serve to route control information from the command computer 36 to the HUD system 10 to operate the various sub-systems such as the speaker 17, display driver 18, display screen 14, and imaging input device 38. More specifically, the command computer 36 operates to maintain the contents of the display on HUD screen 14, including maintaining the display of the basic menus and icons in accordance with the mode selected by the surgeon 12, controlling and displaying movement of the cursor 40 (shown in
Thus, the command computer 36 regularly communicates, through communication links 52, the control signals necessary to operate the display driver or generating system 18, which in turn creates and projects the required elements of the basic user interface through the display optics 20/22 onto the HUD screen 14. As the surgeon 12 moves his eyes 32 to focus upon the various icons and menus of the user interface, the eye-tracking system 56 generates input signals for the command computer 36, which in turn controls the display generating system 18 to correspondingly move the cursor 40 (shown in
The display driver or generating system 18, shown in
In its preferred form, the HUD system 10 uses a projection method for displaying images in the user's field of view using a light source (e.g. CRT, LED, laser diode, LCD projector, etc.). The light source intensity or brightness can be varied in the user's field of view so that the image being displayed can be more visible than the surrounding light. The light source intensity may also be decreased so that the surrounding light can become more visible and the image being displayed less visible.
Most CRT, LED, and other projection display methods require distance (optical path length) for projecting images. Thus, as shown in
It is expressly noted that, while separate eye-tracking electronics 73 are shown in the block diagram as carried by the heads-up display system 10, it is also possible to transmit the raw data from the infrared detector imaging device 26 to the command computer 36, which then determines the associated eye direction vectors. Likewise, the eye-tracking computer (and other electronics, if used) can be worn by the surgeon 12 on a belt or backpack (not shown).
For example, as shown in
As discussed above, each of the icons or menu items 74, 76, 78, 80, 82, 84, and 86 can be accessed and controlled by causing the eye-tracking curser 40 to move over and select the desired icon. For example, referring to
Referring now to
If desired, the user interface and menu/icon programming can be configured to require the surgeon to take further action after the cursor 40 tracks over one of the icons. For example, and in the simplest form, once the surgeon causes the cursor to track over a selected icon, nothing may happen until the surgeon “clicks” a foot-operated mouse button (not shown). In more complex forms of the invention, the surgeon can actually access the selected operation by tracking the cursor to the selected icon and then speaking a select code word (e.g., “select” or “open”) into microphone 16, which word or words are interpreted by speech recognition system 58. In still another form of the invention, the surgeon can access the selected operation associated with a particular icon or menu item by blinking a set number of times in quick succession after tracking the cursor 40 to the desired located. The blinking action is detected by the eye-tracking system 56.
In its simplest form, the selection by the surgeon of a specific icon will cause the associated data or images to be displayed on the screen 14. In such a mode of operation, it is desirable to include numerous icons on the periphery of the field of view 72, so that the surgeon 12 can quickly select an operation. In a more complex form of the invention, a series of menus can be associated with each icon, each menu having successively more detail. For example, instead of having three camera icons 74, 76 and 78, a single “video” icon can be substituted, which when selected by the cursor 40, will change the display to then show the individual icons for each of the many available cameras. Next, when one of the individual camera icons is selected by the cursor 40, the display will again change to show individual icons for the various camera controls, such to control the panning, tilting, rotating, magnification, filters, manipulator members, etc.
As indicated, in more complex forms of the invention, the HUD system 10 may incorporate a hierarchical icon or menu system, where several layers of menus are necessary to obtain and display desired data. In that case, greater flexibility is desirable in controlling how much data can be displayed on the screen 14 at any given time. More specifically, as shown in
The flexibility of the system is further shown in
Thus, the overall medical HUD system 10 is extremely flexible, allowing each surgeon to customize the display and use only the features deemed appropriate, necessary and desirable. In the simplest operating mode, the surgeon may choose to display on a small part of the screen 14 only the patient's vital signs, as shown in
Each of the variations in programming set forth above can be configured for each specific surgeon 12 in a computer file assigned to that user and stored in command computer 36. Thus, if a particular surgeon 12 prefers to have specific icons or menus shown on specific screens, or for example, prefers digital over analog displays for vital signs, that user can select those specific settings and the system will perform in accordance therewith. Similarly, the system allows for substantial customization for specific types of surgeons or fields outside of surgery (e.g., microelectronics, forensics, etc.).
In the embodiments of
The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment and best mode of the invention known to applicant at the time of filing the application has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed, and many modifications and variations are possible in the light of the above teaching. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, and to enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.
For example, many computer-controlled instruments used in the micro-electronics field have one or more eyepieces through which the operator views a specimen. The preferred embodiment of the heads-up display can be easily modified for use in such applications. More specifically, because the user's eye is relatively aligned with the eye-piece, the eye-tracking laser can be unobtrusively mounted in or below the eye-piece shaft. The user interface can be displayed by a display driver onto the same view seen through the eye-piece. In same manner as described for the preferred embodiment, the user can see the full realm of data in the normal field of view, while simultaneously controlling the associated computer. Still further modifications are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
The HUD system's ability to provide high resolution images directly in the field of view of an operator without forcing the operator to look away can greatly enhance the ability to complete an operation in a very precise and controlled manner. This precise control can be incorporated into surgical cutting, probing, and/or positioning tools by clearly presenting the position of such tools onto the display with respect to a patient and/or patient model obtained from real time imagery. This technique can be very advantageous in the event that the actual orientation or position of such tool(s) is unobtainable from an unassisted eye but requires direct visual control to operate.
56. A method of using a heads-up display system for medical purposes, comprising:
- (a) supporting from the head of a medical technician components of a computer-controlled heads-up display system, including (i) a projection device, (ii) an eye-tracking device, and (iii) a transparent display screen;
- (b) positioning the transparent display screen such that the medical technician can see only through the transparent display screen;
- (c) activating the projection device to project onto the transparent display screen a plurality of vital-sign icons;
- (d) tracking eye movement of the medical technician with the eye-tracking device and further activating the projection device to project onto the transparent display screen a cursor, at a position on the screen corresponding to the direction of gaze of the medical technician; and
- (e) generating vital-sign information, concerning a patient who is closest to the medical technician, corresponding to the vital-sign icon at which the eye is focused when (i) the eye of the medical technician is focused on one of the plurality of vital-sign icons, and (ii) the computer-controlled heads-up display system detects that the medical technician has issued an activation command.