A selection of previous work:



"DISECT" -- Digital Imaging System using Enhanced Computed Tomography


Disect is a software viewer that gives clinicians the ability to view their patient's CT and MRI scans in perfect clarity on a consumer grade of laptop. This frees clinicians from only being able to view scans in detail on large expensive machines that are available in only limited locations around a hospital. Instead, clinicians can view scans when and where it best suits. In addition, the Disect viewer incorporates an integrated, high definition, tele-conferencing facility that enables clinicians to share their viewing experience with colleagues in a different location with no loss of picture resolution regardless of the distance involved. This greatly aids the effectiveness of Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meetings which are fundamental to modern day clinical practice and hospital administration. Ultimately the Disect viewer enables clinicians to manage their time more flexibly, which in turn increases the utilisation of clinical skills that are costly and in high demand, and helps to free up more time for clinicians to spend with their patients.




The images above show typical displays in Disect. The top scan has been colourised (one of the many image enhancement tools within Disect) to differentiate more clearly between different types of soft tissue. More examples can be viewed here.


The top left quadrant contains a 3D volumetric image of the patient, reconstructed by the viewer software from the stack of axial slices that emerges from the scanner. Six independent cutting planes can be moved in any orientation and at any angle to reveal the inner anatomy in whatever way the clinician requires. This same quadrant can also be used to display alternative 3D views in the form of MIP (Maximum Intensity Projection) and MPR (Multi-Planar Reformat) images, which greatly extends the 3D information field. The remaining three quadrants contain 2D views of a single slice, which the clinician can scroll through to locate particular regions of interest. The 2D image in the bottom right quadrant (the axial image) is the only real image from the scanner. The other 2D images (sagittal and corronal), like all of the 3D images, are reconstruted from the stack of slices from the scanner.


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"iDisect" -- Learning by exploring the unseen


Inspired by the Disect software viewer that is specifically tailored to experienced clinicians and health professionals, iDisect is a simplified but still full-featured version aimed at people of all ages and background who seek a compelling new learning experience, by viewing the inner workings of a range of interesting subjects. Prepared scans of a wide range of objects can be downloaded from an online store enabling users to assemble a library of scans of their favourite subject matter. This can include human anatomy, land and marine animals, insects, fossils, engineering components, items of technology, and much more. The educational attributes of being able to dissect any of these objects in a completely interactive manner, driven entirely by the user, are potentially profound.



The image above shows a view of iDisect in which the user has selected a sea urchin to dissect, which they will have previously downloaded from the online store. The user has chosen to colourise the image and is in the process of moving the various cut planes to reveal the inner anatomy. As with the Disect viewer, the suite of image manipulation and enhancement tools within iDisect is similarly expansive and supports a highly compelling, interactive viewing experience.



Each scan contains embedded textual and pictorial metadata that conveys encyclopaedic information about the subject matter. The image above shows the metadata associated with the sea urchin. The library of images can be scrolled through, and the textual information contains links to further sources of relevant information. More examples can be viewed here.


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“HealthView” -- learn about human anatomy to improve your health


This proposal builds upon the iDisect viewer to explore how the general public could be incentivised to lead a healthy lifestyle by viewing scans of human anatomy which illustrate the consequences of unhealthy behaviour. The interactivity of the iDisect viewer enables users to select the scans of most relevance to their health circumstances. In the example below the user has selected to view a scan of a lung that has become diseased through long term heavy smoking. The user can cut into the lung, zoom in/out, rotate the view, colourise it, make the soft tissue transparent to reveal the skeletal structure, and much more. The interface enables users to create their own notes about their viewing session and submit questions which could be answered by an online automated FAQ system.


The metadata associated with each scan, as well as explaining the anatomy on display and the nature of the disease, also contains guidance on self-help regimes that manage the condition or minimise the likelihood of it being contracted. The scans in the online library and their metadata would be produced by experienced health professionals to ensure their educational correctness and overall benefit to the users. These professionals would also be responsible for regularly updating the scans and metadata to ensure their continued relevance and that they incorporate the latest knowledge in the field.



The images above illustrate how the viewer can be implemented on all portable devices. Users can range from those who have already contracted a medical condition through an unhealthy lifestyle that they wish to understand and take action to manage, to those who are currently in fine health and wish to understand the array of medical conditions that they could contract if they stray from healthy behaviours.


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“VIEW” -- Virtual Education in the Workplace


It is mandatory for nursing staff and other front-line health professionals to regularly attend Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses to ensure they are up to date on best practice and are maximally proficient in the work place. Typically these courses are provided on-campus at universities and other teaching institutions as part of their portfolio of modules for degree courses. However, healthcare trusts often face severe operational difficulties when releasing their staff to attend CPD courses away from the workplace. Consequently the uptake of these courses is low. This is a recurring issue against a backdrop of critical CQC (Care Quality Commission) reports that highlight the need for improvements but with less available money. This proposal explores the potential for the latest computer based virtual environments to bring CPD courses to the workplace while giving attendees a strong feeling of being in a classroom setting away from the workplace, surrounded by their fellow learners. Removing the need for travel, together with the greater utilisation of the existing technologies and computing facilities in the workplace, will also give healthcare trusts the means to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve a higher level of sustainability and re-usability.


Web conferencing is currently the most widely used method of delivering e-Learning to the workplace. Well known platforms include Webex, Citrix, GoToMeeting, MS Live Meeting, Skype, and others.  They are typified by displaying a flat 2D representation of the classroom and course content. In the example opposite the tutor and attendees appear as live video feeds, while the course content is a PowerPoint slide deck with a voice-over from the tutor. In simpler implementations the attendees might appear as just a list of their names with perhaps a thumbprint photograph alongside each, and rather than the course content being presented live, it might be a prepared video recording.  In either case, no attempt is made to recreate a realistic classroom or lecture theatre setting and convey a feeling of actually being there. The displayed e-Learning environment is purely utilitarian.


Virtual e-Learning environments are visually very distinct from web conferencing. They are designed to recreate the look and feel of a real world setting on the user’s PC display. Their purpose is to immerse tutors and learners in the same 3D space, all of whom are represented in-world by their avatar.  Importantly, virtual world environments aim to instil in users a strong sensation of being among fellow learners, in the same space, and sharing the same viewing experience.



Studies of the efficacy of teaching/learning in virtual world environments have shown that there is benefit from being in a virtual setting surrounded by fellow learners, compared with web conferencing.  The degree of benefit is inevitably dependent upon factors such as the subject matter being taught, the level of interaction that is needed between learners and tutors, image quality, sound quality, and so on.  The architectural design of the virtual classroom and lecture theatre, as well as the dress code of the participants, can also be influential. Virtual world technology is still in its infancy and improvements are needed particularly in image quality and interactivity before this form of e-Learning will fully meet the expectations of all parties. However, the ease with which virtual environments can be accessed from the workplace for the purposes of CPD compliance will help to accelerate their development and promote their wide adoption in due course.


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