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Love karaoke even though you sound awful? Well, now you can love it and sound amazing, as Singtrix goes on sale in the UK today.

Created by the same minds that made Guitar Hero, Singtrix lets you plug in music from any source, and makes you sound like whichever pop star you want to - including Barry White. It can also give you automatic backing singers or a choir to harmonise with you, if you so wish, as well as auto-tune your voice to make you sound incredible.

Compatible with any device featuring a 3.5mm audio connecter, Singtrix lets you plug in your smartphone, tablet, MP3 player or computer and choose songs from your own music library, karaoke apps or stream karaoke videos from sites like YouTube™. In addition, the Singtrix karaoke app powered by Karaoke anywhere for Apple® iOS, Android™ or Kindle Fire™ tablets includes a library of more than 13,000 songs with lyrics.

While the product isn't cheap, selling at £299, we tried it out last night (check out our Instagram for pictures), and can definitely say it's A LOT of fun, and would be amazing to have at a party, or if you want to practice singing in the comfort of your home. The machine has over 300 retro and modern vocal effects, covering every generation and genre of music, but Stand By Me was our personal favourite.

The Singtrix bundle includes the Singtrix 'Studio' vocal effects unit, custom microphone, professional mic stand and 40-watt, 2.1 Stereo Speaker System, and is available to purchase from the Singtrix website for £299.

flappy bird.jpgThe game that got us all annoyingly addicted for weeks; Flappy Bird is returning to the app store in August, complete with a multiplayer mode.

The creator, Dong Nguyen, told CNBC's Kelly Evans the news on the network's Closing Bell programme today. He added that the game will be less addictive and we don't know how to feel about.

Flappy Bird is one of those games that looks so simple but actually is SO HARD! The game used to be available on mobile phones until Nguyen decided to take it down, probably because everyone was giving him stick for making it the hardest game in the world.

Are you excited for the return of the game, or are you as scared as us about getting addicted again? Either way, we still have the original version on our phones to keep us happy - or annoyed as hell, depending on how you look at it.

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We don't know about you, but we're extremely excited for the release of The Sims 4, having grown up creating Sims just to drown them by making them get in the swimming pool and take away the stairs (come on, you all did it!). However, Russia obviously isn't as thrilled about the new game as us, having given it an 18+ rating, because it includes the ability to form gay relationships.

Despite the game being widely known to be a relatively light life simulator game and rated 13+ in the USA, and PEGI 12 over here in the UK, EA, the producers of The Sims, said that the game was given a higher rating in Russia due to a Russian content rating law, stating that homosexual relationships are 'harmful' to children.

EA told Polygon that it will not change the game, despite the potential impact on sales. Same-sex relationships have been possible in The Sims since the release of the first game in 2000, and gay marriages have been possible since The Sims 3.

Deborah Coster, a spokesperson for The Sims, said: "One of the key tenets of The Sims is that it is up to the player to decide how to play the game. We provide the simulation sandbox and player choice and creativity does the rest."

The Sims 4 is due to be released later this year.

tetris-left.jpgIf you're trying to curb your cookie addiction, give up smoking or lay off the drink then according to a study by Plymouth University the secret answer isn't therapy, patches or medication, it's Tetris.

The study is based on Elaborated Intrusion Theory, which means that what we see is central to what we crave. So flood our sight with bright Tetris playing and our bad compulsions could just fade away.

The study asked a number of participants (all with addictions) to play the game and those that did for more than three minutes reported a 24& drop in their cravings. Although this may not be conclusive, it certainly gives us an excuse to play the retro game throughout the day.

Rovio, the developers of the wildly popular Angry Birds series of games have only minutes ago tweeted a teaser image for the next game in the series: Angry Birds Stella.

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We're not entirely certain yet what the game will be like - though we would hazard a guess at the game ultimately involving knocking down different structures by throwing birds at them.

The tagline on the poster reveals that the characters are "best of friends forever, most of the time", and Rovio also tweeted to describe the characters as "friends/frenemies". I wonder if the bird in the shadows with the arched eyebrows will turn out to be the antagonist?

Meanwhile The Verge quote Rovio's CEO describing it by saying that "Angry Birds Stella is breaking the [mould] by introducing strong, passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and reality into the mix", and that the game is "is all about inspiration, empowerment, and other real issues".

Umm, right.

The speculation is that the game will be targeted primarily at women, given the focus on the pink bird character - though to us it carries a stronger suggestion that perhaps the representation of women in games has come little further than Ms Pacman.

It'll be interesting to see how this lends itself to a mobile. Perhaps Stella will feature a level where you've got to fling projectile birds in order to smash the glass ceiling?

The game is expected to land this autumn.

Could this game help cure cancer?

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Cancer Research UK have announced an intriguing new game this morning. That's right - not Zinga or King... but Cancer Research UK. They reckon their new space game "Play to Cure: Genes in Space" will directly help scientists working to cure the disease.

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One of the big problems that scientists regularly face is having too much data to sort through. Running an experiment can product thousands or even millions of samples that need to be analysed before any conclusions can be drawn - and annoyingly for them, a lot of the time this can't be automated as it needs a human brain to do the thinking.

There is a brilliant solution to this though: outsource the analysis to you and me. Whilst we non-scientists don't have the training to explain what any of it means, we are pretty good at spotting patterns and commonalities in images. But what can you do if you can't find someone to parse through thousands of boring images? It turns out the answer can be crowdsourcing.

Rather than rely on one person to do the work, one solution is to put it on the web and rely on lots of people doing a little bit each - and to make it fun, turn it into a game! One of the early successes like this was Galaxy Zoo, which saw volunteers work their way through a huge database of images of galaxies, classifying them as different types of galaxy by shape (eg, was it a spiral or a disc?). Add a scoring system and you have an addictive game.

Cancer research are taking this a step further - they've hidden the noble pursuits built into the game almost entirely. Genes In Space is for all intents and purposes, a space shooter.

Where the helpful science comes in is during each mission, when the player must draw a path through space. To do this, they're shown a an image that looks like space with a load of wavy white lines on it - this is actually something cancer related. By plotting the route and joining the dots, you're adding valuable metadata for scientists to use... as well as planning your space route.

Then it's into the game and you have to navigate the path you just drew - and avoid oncoming asteroids in the process. Apparently even the playing helps scientists figure out what's going on.

On top of this - it's a fun game too, and there's a ship upgrade system and all that sort of thing too, to give the player a sense of accomplishment!

The game is available for download now on both the iPhone and Android app stores.

Who knows, if this app is successful it might help many more people Live Long And Prosper?

archos 546.jpgType: Android gaming tablet
Price as reviewed: £179

Archos's first attempt to enter the 'gaming tablet' market was way back in 2012 (a huge year in terms of tech), with its original GamePad - though it didn't quite work for me, unfortunately. Many moons on, though, and I've managed to get my hands on the French-based manufacturer's GamePad 2, which carries a ton of improvements to both design and power when compared to its predecessor.

Design

At first glance, the GamePad 2 could easily be mistaken as a Sony PS Vita or PSP. It is only really distinguished by an a larger form-factor and the Archos logo that has been nicely placed under the tablet's respectable 7- inch display. The tablet is reassuringly solid and comes in at 200.5 mm x 154 mm x 9.9 mm, weighing 400g.

You'd think an Android tablet weighing 400g would be pretty heavy to hold, compared to Google's Nexus 7, which is actually over 100g lighter. Though, surprisingly, the GamePad 2 has a nice weight to it. As well as this, it's solid and sports slightly curved sides that add to a tight and sustainable grip.

Looking around the GamePad 2, you'll find the usual ports and buttons (power/lock button, volume rocker, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-USB charging port and the added extra of a mini-HDMI), along with some physical gameplay controls such as a D-pad and two analogue sticks - just like the PS Vita.

Display

With the GamePad, you get a 7- inch panel that offers up a 1080p resolution. I did a few tests to determine the quality of the GamePad 2's display and have to say, it's rather impressive, with an excellent colour balance - a huge improvement when compared to the original GamePad.

Interface

The GamePad 2 has been pre-loaded with Google's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system - not KitKat - and features a more stock experience, with little design input from Archos. Personally, I don't mind this. However, it would've been nice to have seen some sort of software customisation.

Power

Archos hasn't just improved the overall design and display of the GamePad 2, as you also get a 1.6GHz quad-core processor that is much faster than the original GamePad - though clearly not as whizzy as the Advent Tegra Note's Tegra 4 processor as touted by some of its rivals.

In terms of memory, you're able to choose from 8GB and 16GB options. Although you can easily expand the memory, either way, as you're able to make use of the micro-SD card slot. In fact, if you can get an extra 64GB this way, which means you wouldn't necessarily need to splash out on the more expensive 16GB model just to get an ample amount of space to store your apps and games.

The 5000mAh battery was also great when it came to actually using and testing the GamePad 2, providing plenty of power for browsing the web, updating my Facebook status and playing a few games.

Gameplay

If you intend on purchasing the Archos GamePad 2, you obviously would've been attracted by its gaming abilities and how it sports full gaming controls - which is unique for an Android tablet.

The GamePad 2 has been highly supported by Gameloft, which is known for a wide variety of licensed movie-based and other games, providing the tablet with access to a range of different titles -including Modern Combat and Asphalt 8, which have been pre-installed and don't cost you a penny.

Testing out the gaming capabilities of the GamePad 2, I was very impressed with the updated D-pad and analogue sticks and found the mapping feature very useful when it came to playing a number of different titles from the Play Store.

Verdict

The GamePad 2 is a fine Android tablet in terms of power and overall performance, and it is a huge improvement over its predecessor - perfect if you're someone who's obsessed with games. Whether you need it over a more conventional tablet, it is a decision only you can make.


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The recent launch of Sony's PS4 has spawned an announcement of new, compatible headsets from Creative. They include the Sound Blaster Evo series and Sound Blaster Tactic3D Fury and Rage USB.

Sound Blaster Evo series

Creative's Evo ZXR is the most expensive and powerful of the range, sporting a SB-Axx1 sound chip for enhancing sound quality, as well as 50mm drivers for providing impressive sound reproduction. It currently sells for £249.99.

The Evo ZX, which is an on-ear headset sporting 40mm drivers, is the little brother of the ZXR. It too comes with a SB-Axx1 chip, which, as already mentioned, has been implemented for making sure that the overall sound quality is amazing. It's £50 cheaper at £199.99.

Sound Blaster Tactic3D Fury and Rage USB

The new Sound Blaster Tactic3D Fury is the most distinctive design of the whole Tactic3D series. It has been provided with built-in 40mm FullSpectrum drivers that deliver an impressive sound experience, which also happens to be nicely balanced. It's decently priced at £59.99.

As for the Rage, you're getting a budget-oriented headset, costing just £49.99, which comes with powerful 50mm drivers and SBX Pro Studio technology that delivers amazing gaming audio. And as an added bonus, the soft ear cushion is comfortable for those long gaming nights

Both ranges can be found over at the official Creative UK website.

Think you know about Assassin's Creed? Have you travelled the world with Ezio? Then prove it by taking our Assassin's Creed Travel Quiz.

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Five things we love about the PS4!

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Sponsored post 

 

With over 1 million pre-orders and more to come, the upcoming PS4 launch for 29 November 29 caused worldwide excitement.

There is a clamour for eager PlayStation fans to pre-order and get the new console in time for Christmas. With partners such as GAME guaranteeing deliver before Christmas with only a £20 deposit, there is still a chance to grab your hands on the elusive console in time.

 

The more details that are released from the Sony team, the bigger the anticipation we feel. With this in mind we have the top five things that we love about the PS4:

 

5. Dualshock 4

 

Trying to design a controller that is better than the Xbox's default offering has been one of the harder tasks for Sony developers but they may have succeeded with the new Dualshock 4 ps4 controller.

 

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Introducing the Track Pad, there is now more flexibility for players to make the most out of each game. Plus, with a sleeker design and an incredibly light feel, hours and hours of gaming time awaits you with no negative effects on your hands. 


4. Playstation app

 

Sony have caught up with rivals Xbox and announced that there will be an app for iOS and Android to offer second screen gaming. The free app will allow users to compare achievements and view the successes of friends.

 

The most striking element is the ability to offer second screen gaming like with the Wii U on certain games.

 

As of yet, there has not been an announcement on the release date on the app.

 

3. Online upgrades

 

With technology outdated almost as soon as it is released, it is refreshing to see Sony focus on the future and longevity of the PS4. Online upgrades will be consistently released and provide the console regular booster injections to keep themselves ahead of the game.

 

Plus, there has already been acknowledgement from the powers that be that early fan feedback on the PS4 has been taken in. Expect Sony and the fans to work together to have the ultimate games console that is personally defined for each user.

 

2. A feast of games

 

A healthy mix of third party and exclusive titles fill up the list of on the PS4 and with more expected to be announced, the console is definitely kicking things off with a bang.


1. All round improvement

 

So much has been promised to fans with enhanced graphics and social features that all round improvement has to be our favourite PS4 feature.

 

Add into that the fact that the PlayStation Vita will play an important role as Remote Play if enabled on the PS4, and the gaming experience has reached a whole new level.

 

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ps4-app.jpgVery excited about the launch of Sony's PlayStation 4 later this month? Well you can whet your appetite a little by downloading Sony's new PlayStation app for iOS and Android which has just the respective app stores.

The exciting part is that the new PS4 enables second screen content so you will be able to interact with the game through your mobile. This might be a game map or some extra control options - it is obviously down to the developers. You can also use the app to buy games which will then be ported to your console.

The app also has PSN chat as well as and you can use the app to control the console which is every useful for things like harnessing your phone's keyboard rather than the one on the controller.

The app is very similar on both iOS and Android and is designed to have the look and feel of the new console.

10 new Android games for women

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Despite its male-dominated beginnings, 48% of gamers are now women - and it's easy to see why. With so many games available for mobile operating systems like Android, it's almost impossible not to be drawn in by an overwhelming desire to collect gold coins, or wreak vengeance on virtual enemies. With that in mind - here's a selection of some of the best Android games out there.

Ok, so we are a little late with this. I mean who would have thought that Nadal would be on the plane home before we got our annual Wimbledon gadgets and games feature out. Nevertheless if you do want to emulate the great British player Andy Murray (aka as the Scots fella should he not be lining up in the final on Sunday) then here are a few games and gadgets to get you in the mood.

PS4_10.jpgThere was a time when Sony was the ultimate name in consumer electronics. It had a superb range of high-end products in a number of sectors that were just better designed, better built and crammed with more useful and innovative features than its rivals.

Then about a decade or so ago things started to go a little awry. Hamstrung by its ties to content companies it let some of its leading brands ie the Walkman slide to be superseded by the brilliant products coming out of Cupertino.

The level of innovation declined and even in gaming it found itself running a poor third behind Microsoft and Nintendo.

More recently there has been a subtle change at the company. Maybe it has just focused more on product design (maybe taking a cue or two from Apple) or maybe it has decided to really give consumers what they want (and not agonise about the impact on its music, games and video sles) but its products have once again become, whisper it, rather cool.

The ditching of the unwieldy Sony Ericsson combination has certainly helped and the arrival of 4K TVs and tablets has opened up new opportunities for the company, but it just feels like Sony has rediscovered its mojo.

Here then are five examples of how Sony has returned to form.

1 The new PS4 trumps the X Box One

The two new games consoles are fairly similar in terms of looks, hardware and range of games. But the Sony has a few trump cards. Firstly it has removed the restrictions regarding the playing of used games - which has been massively well received by gamers. Also you don't need an online connection to play games and the console is region-free. The clincher though might just be the price, with the PS4 coming in at £349, which could be as much as £80 cheaper than its Microsoft rival.

2 Sony has the only Android tablet to seriously rival the iPad

In fact a few writers have even suggested that the Sony Xperia Z tablet has the edge over its 10inch Apple competitor. It is an absolute stunner. Incredibly thin and light, yet a breeze to use and has a superb screen and excellent sound quality. It is waterproof so you can watch movies in the bath too. If you have £400 to spend on 10inch tablet you need to look at this beauty first.

3 Sony is leading the way in 4K TVs

Super high resolution 4K TVs are set to become big news later in 2013 and Sony is already setting the standard. On its books it has the flagship monster screen 84-inch 84X9005 and coming soon are the Sony KD-55X9000A and the Sony KD-65X9000A.55 and 65inch screen sets respectively which have prices tags starting at £4,000. This will start to begin the coast of 4K Tvs down and Sony is very well placed to dominate the 4k market.

4 It is rumoured to have an amazing smartphone on its way

As if the excellent Xperia Z with its groundbreaking waterproof screen wasn't enough, there's already quite a buzz about the next big smartphone from the company. The rumours are that the Honami will pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip clocked at a staggering 2.3GHz - way faster that any of its rivals. It will also be powered by a huge 3,000mAh battery pack that will deliver running times that are well clear of rival smartphones. The screen is rumoured to be stunning too in that it is a 5-inch Full HD 1080p display running 'Triluminos' technology. The phone will be made from glass, metal and carbon fibre, and be absolutely stunning to look at. And to top it all it will sport a 20-megapixel camera accompanied by a huge 1/1.6-inch Exmor RS sensor.

5 It is making great laptops again

For while now Sony laptops have been also rans. Which a shame because there was a time when if you wanted a Windows laptop the extra you paid for design and build quality for a Sony was a very sensible investment. The new Vaio Pro is definitely a return to form. It is light, made from carbon fibre and has an Intel Haswell heart. There's a lovely screen, very good quality battery life and a decent keyboard - which not all Sony laptops have featured recently. It might be pricey at around £1000 but this might just be the best Windows 8 laptop on sale.

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100BillionHands.pngIn Association with PokerStars

Get out your smartphone or tablet and click over to PokerStars now, because the poker site has announced that they will be giving away $5 million in celebration of the 100 billionth virtual hand. 

100 billion is a huge number. To put PokerStars' record-breaking achievement into perspective, the amount of hands played on the website is about to be the same number of stars estimated to populate the Milky Way. As PokerStars hurtles towards this huge accomplishment, it is giving its players the chance to share in its success.

As part of the Road to 100 Billion promotion, which celebrates every five billionth Mega Milestone game, players on PokerStars can win a substantial amount of money if they're lucky enough to be a part of the 100 billionth hand. 

The final mega milestone is expected towards the middle of June, concluding the promotion with a massive celebration and $1 million for the players involved. The winner of the hand will take a minimum prize of $100,000, with the rest being shared between their fellow players on the winning table and all other players playing at the same stake at the time of the 100 billionth hand.

Players in other key milestone hands in the run up to the 100 billionth milestone will share $1 million in prizes. More money will be spread across special promotional Sit & Gos and tournaments, with another $3 million to be won.

Traffic to the website is expected to spike significantly in anticipation of the Mega Milestone hand. The 95 billionth hand played out on PokerStars back in February at a $0.08 / $0.16 No Limit Hold'em table.

All nine players who were lucky enough to be dealt into this hand shared out substantial prizes, with the winner, RichB17, receiving a$23,920 first place prize. It takes around three months for http://pokerstars.com to deal every 5 billion hands, so make sure you are playing on the site in June to be in with a chance of sharing in the celebrations.


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nvidia-grid-gaming.jpgNvidia is staking a strong claim on the cloud-based gaming arena at CES 2013 this week by unveiling the Grid.

The Grid is just like Netflix but for die-hard gamers instead of movie buffs and - after a demo from the team - appears to be a seamless way for users to play a range of different games across multiple devices. Whatever game you play on one device and whichever stage you reach, you can then pick everything up from the exact same spot using another, which is what has led many to draw comparisons with Netflix's functionality.

There'll clearly be some issues with streaming games for those in areas that don't have the best data connections, but there's no doubt the Grid could prove to be a key competitor to the likes of OnLive and Gaikai that are already in the "game", so to speak.


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The highly anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 computer game, crammed with all kinds of gory shoot-em-up scenarios, zombies and terrorism, sold more than eight million copies in the first 24 hours after it was released, making it the fastest selling game of all time.

The latest Call of Duty release officially went on sale throughout the world at midnight on Monday and stores up and down the country stayed open all night to allow die-hard gamers to get their hands on it.

Shiny Shiny was invited to the game's official launch party where we watched celebrities battle it out. We'll keep you posted about when our sister site Tech Digest posts its official review of the game...

[Via Metro Images via Activision]

kinect-play-fit-large.jpegMicrosoft has launched a new feature for the Xbox console today called Kinect PlayFit, which collects data about your activity and the calories you've burned playing a whole host of popular titles, such as Dance Central 2, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 and even Kinect Star Wars (yeah, really), as well as a number of other games.

Those interested in tracking their fitness will be able to earn different kinds of medals and achievements too, work their way up leaderboards so they can compete with other Xbox Live members and share their results among social networks, making them more inclined to really push themselves as they dance around, bend into yoga positions and fight off stormtroopers.

The Kinect PlayFit is only available to Xbox Live members in the US at the moment and it'll apparently be launching to those in other countries as soon as next week. Finger's crossed the UK is next on the list.

Related: Nike+ introduces Kinect training at E3

[Via Connected Health Via Engadget]

minority-report-ads.jpgOver the past few years we've seen offline advertisers take different (and often worrying) approaches to targeting potential customers, which sometimes seem far too much like ideas taken straight from Minority Report, with different ads being shown to different genders, drivers being told where they might like to visit nearby and even ads that are tailored to your personal tastes. Well now it seems Microsoft wants to try and bring a similar, yet even more advanced, kind of targeted advertising to gamers.

According to Technology Review, Microsoft filed for a patent application back in 2010 that would enable the Kinect to determine your mood and fire ads at you accordingly. It's only just been made public this week and has left many questioning whether it's the most manipulative use of the Kinect we've EVER seen. We think: YES.

The patent application contains a lot of information about how Microsoft would accurately work out different moods and it seems to be all about employing the use of motion and facial recognition technology:

"If the user on the videos or images from the webcams is dancing, the advertisement engine may assign a positive emotional state, such as, glad or happy, to the user...If the user on the videos or images from the computing device, e.g., Microsoft Kinect, is screaming, the advertisement engine may assign a negative emotional state, such as, upset, to the user. If the user on the videos or images from the computing device, e.g., Microsoft Kinect., is pacing back and forth, the advertisement engine may assign a negative emotional state, such as, worried, to the user."

If it doesn't concern you enough that your Kinect is sat there analysing your every movement, then take a look at some of Microsoft's justification for analysing a gamer's face:

"Weight-loss product advertisers may not want their advertisement to appear to users that are very happy. Because, a person that is really happy, is less likely to purchase a self-investment product that leverages on his or her shortcomings."

Yes it makes sense from a brand's perspective, why sell a product that's designed to erode your self esteem and force you to part with a disgusting amount of money to people that enjoy life? After all, it's those that are sat there crying and need someone to comfort them that need your overpriced, gimmicky gym equipment and a pill that'll damage their insides but make them a few lbs lighter.

Of course it's just a patent application, there's a pretty good (OK highly likely) chance that this kind of advertising won't be happening anytime soon, but we can still get all worked up and angry about it in the meantime.

[Via Technology Review]

doctor-kinect.jpgThe last place you'd expect to see a Kinect is on an operating table, but the device could be the ideal way for doctors to consult medical images during complicated procedures.

Last week a surgeon at the Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London started using a new system that relies on an Xbox Kinect camera. The surgeon was able to wave his arms, or make other simple gestures, in order to quickly and easily browse through medical images, instead of asking his colleagues to find them for him.

According to New Scientist, surgeons generally need to stop what they're doing and look through detailed images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes during a procedure. Many depend on assistants and nurses to hold up images or use a computer to find the information they need, but we can imagine this is a lengthy and rather frustrating process.

Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon working at Guy's and St Thomas', who helped lead the operation, said:

"Up until now, I'd been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out [...] I had very intuitive control".

Carrell was able to use the Kinect to look at a 3D model, which was then projected as a 2D live image-feed onto the patient. This way the doctor can see what's happening inside the patient and look at the 3D model simultaneously.

In order to make the whole process as quick and easy as possible, Carrell and his colleagues have been working with the Microsoft team to develop gestures that they can perform in small spaces during an operation. So, medical professionals can now use simple gestures with one hand at the same time as a voice command to access the information they need.

[Via New Scientist]

Related: The Kinect is being used to detect signs of autism in children

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