Medical Imaging with Xbox Technology

The technology of the Xbox helps scientists to better understand pictures from inside a body from the outside
Medical engineer Mirco Heß attached two Kinects to a PET scanner. Kinects are normally used to control video games of the game console Xbox from Microsoft by gesture. With that the scientists is able to capture the breathing motion at any point on the torso surface.
© Mirco Heß

When patients breathe during a clinical acquisition with a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner, the images will be blurred. Scientists work with different techniques to minimize the blurring on clinical images. Mirco Heß, medical engineer and Ph.D. student of the University of Münster, has now developed a system which helps scientists to better understand why recorded images from the inside of a patient’s body cohere with the effect of motion. The ingenious thing about it: Mirco Heß used two so-called Kinects for his scientific experiment. They are normally known from the video game console Xbox from Microsoft. The results of his work are now published in the renowned science journal Medical Physics.

Kinect is a 3D-camera which is able to track movements. That enables users to control and interact with their console with gestures. The scientist community likes this system, too. For the first time Mirco Heß used two Kinects simultaneously in a context of motion correction. He attached them to a PET scanner and uses them to record breathing motion from patients during clinical scans. Using two cameras simultaneously allows him to capture the respiratory motion at any point on the torso surface.

Better Understanding for Basic Researchers

Currently, physicians use the so-called respiratory belt during a clinical PET scan to measure breathing motion of patients. With its information they can describe if and how breathing motion causes blurring. With a technique called gating, scientists can subdivide the data into smaller datasets corresponding to different breathing phases and eliminate the blur. The problem with the respiratory belt is that it only provides motion information from a single position. Mirco Heß shows that it is possible to provide additional information for motion correction with an affordable technology. With his technique scientists have the chance to better understand how the motion you see from the outside correlates with image blurring.


Heß M, Büther F, Gigengack F, Dawood M, Schäfers KP. A dual-Kinect approach to determine torso surface motion for respiratory motion correction in PET. Med. Phys. 2015;42: 2276-2286. Abstract