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Robotic laparoscope positioners are now expected as assisting devices for solo surgery among endoscopic surgeons. In such robotic systems, the human-machine (surgeon-robot) interface is of paramount importance because it is the means by which the surgeon communicates with and controls the robotic camera assistant. We have designed a novel human-machine interface, called "FAce MOUSe", for controlling the position of a laparoscope. The proposed human interface is an image-based system which tracks the surgeon's facial motions robustly in real time and does not require the use of any body-contact devices, such as head-mounted sensing devices. The surgeon can easily and precisely control the motion of the laparoscope by simply making the appropriate face gesture, without hand or foot switches or voice input. Based on the FAce MOUSe interface, we have developed a new robotic laparoscope positioning system for solo surgery. Our system allows nonintrusive, nonverbal, hands off and feet off laparoscope operations, which seem more convenient for the surgeon. To evaluate the performance of the proposed system and its applicability in clinical use, we set up an in vivo experiment, in which the surgeon used the system to perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy on a pig.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2003