Two-dimensional (2D) videoconferencing has been explored widely in the past 15–20 years to support collaboration in healthcare. Two issues that arise in most evaluations of 2D videoconferencing in telemedicine are the difficulty obtaining optimal camera views and poor depth perception. To address these problems, we are exploring the use of a small array of cameras to reconstruct dynamic three-dimensional (3D) views of a remote environment and of events taking place within. The 3D views could be sent across wired or wireless networks to remote healthcare professionals equipped with fixed displays or with mobile devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs). The remote professionals’ viewpoints could be specified manually or automatically (continuously) via user head or PDA tracking, giving the remote viewers head-slaved or hand-slaved virtual cameras for monoscopic or stereoscopic viewing of the dynamic reconstructions. We call this idea remote 3D medical collaboration. In this article we motivate and explain the vision for 3D medical collaboration technology; we describe the relevant computer vision, computer graphics, display, and networking research; we present a proof-of-concept prototype system; and we present evaluation results supporting the general hypothesis that 3D remote medical collaboration technology could offer benefits over conventional 2D videoconferencing in emergency healthcare.

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Published in Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration, v. 4, no. 4.

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