It is mostly the Oculus Rift and the Sony’s Playstation VR that take the headlines these days, but that doesn’t mean that simpler tools such as the Google Cardboard can’t be useful. In this case it was extremely useful as it helped to plan an operation virtually first and quite possibly have saved a baby’s life at the same time.
Teegan Lexcen was born with a unique defect that the doctors hadn’t seen before. Most of the left half of her heart was missing and on top of that she only has one lung. The parents were originally told by their doctors that nothing could be done. The poor girl was sent to a hospice to have the best care in the little time she had left. But two weeks later, Teegan was still alive. At this point her parents started to look for alternatives and found Redmond Burke, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Burke’s idea, along with a team of heart surgeons, was to 3D print a model of Teegan’s heart and go from there. But to make bad news worse, the 3D printer was broken and due to Teegan’s dangerous condition, something had to be done fast.
The doctors then turned to virtual reality in order to get a 3D image of the child’s chest region and organs. Doctors downloaded 3D images of the heart to an iPhone using the app Sketchfab. The images were similar to the 3D models that the doctors had on their computers, but the Google Cardboard used made it easier to accurately view every angle of the heart’s structure.
There were two major difficulties with this surgery, besides the extra risk that there always is with patients this young. First, the heart was placed further to the left of the chest than normal. That would normally require a very big incision which is a “massive trauma to a baby, it’s just horrendous,” Burke told CNN. Thanks to the Google Cardboard, Burke was able to visualize the precise location and use a much smaller and simpler midline incision.
The second challenge was a missing ventricle. Normally we have two, one that supplies the blood to the lungs while the other takes care of the rest. This was a tricky one in all conditions, but again the Google Cardboard helped Burke come up with a completely new procedure and solution for the problem. He rerouted Teegan’s right ventricle so it could continue to pump blood to both her lungs and body. He did this after having spent hours examining the 3D image of Teegan’s heart in Google Cardboard before pulling off the procedure with no complications.
This is a perfect example of why I love technology. When it is used for good and to help. In this case it was something as simple and cheap as a Google Cardboard (together with a lesser cheap iPhone) that helped do what an expensive 3D printer failed at. I wish little Teegan and her entire family all the best, may they all have a blessed life together.
The internet is a place where lots can happen. People can have their details exposed, like those that were taken in the latest breaches at TalkTalk or they could have them misused in SWAT’ings. Some people believe though that this means that not only can the internet be misused, it can also be used for good. To represent and defend the common people, one such group is Anonymous.
Famous for their operations against governments and controversial groups, Anonymous are already acting on their next operation, titled Operation KKK. Designed to target the Klu Klux Klan, who are listed as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation league and is said to have anywhere between 5,000 and 8,000 members. Anonymous wants to unmask around 1,000 of these in the next phase of their operation, an action called Hoods Off on November 5th.
Not one to shy away from the public, Anonymous have been updating their twitter reporting already that many sites related to the KKK have already been taken offline, and that more will come.
A hacker going by the name of Amped Attacks has already helped out with this by taking down the Westboro Baptist Church’s website as well as several KKK websites. In doing so they have apparently also gained access to a list of identifying information for a range of people including Mayors and Senators.
Since the major topics nowadays are secret service cyber conspiracies and cyberattacks, the latest news points to another cyberattack aimed at more than one thousand power plants worldwide.
Symantec, a company specialising in software security, has apparently uncovered a malware campaign started by a group called Dragonfly, allowing remote access to computer systems from various power plants. Symantec stated that the group has used the malware only to spy on its victims, though serious damage could have been done as well.
A number of 1,018 organisations across 84 countries are stated to have been infected, spanning from grid operations to gas pipelines. It has later been discovered that Dragonfly’s base servers were based in Eastern Europe, leading to the conclusion that the group is of Russian origin. They reportedly used techniques spanning from garden pushing attacks, to campaigns targeting component manufacturers, allowing infections to take hold in any downstream system.
The comparison made against the infected systems led to the conclusion that the sophisticated Stuxnet virus has been used, something which the US previously used to damage nuclear power plants in Iran back in 2010. Up to this point, the real purpose of this major cyberattack is unclear.
Remember the hit 1997 movie Face/Offstarting Nicolas Cage and John Travolta? Well due to medical procedure advancements the idea of transplanting faces could soon be a possibility. Faces are not the only transplants that could be achieved, with the U.S. Government preparing a new legislation to help donors who may not want to give up certain parts of their body. In other words the definition of organ donor is being reviewed, since now due to medical advancements doctors are able to graft hands, feet, and even though face transplants are still rare they can and are happening.
The new legislation being drafted by the Government with the help of leading transplant specialist Dr Suzanne McDiarmid, aims at informing would be donors out there about the new advancements so donors can still assist in giving another person the gift of life, without fear that they will be giving up something they don’t want too. Dr McDiarmid went out to explain the matter further;
“Joe Blow is not going to know that now an organ is defined as also including a hand or a face. The consent process for the life-saving organs should not, must not, be derailed by a consent process for a different kind of organ that the public might think of as being very different from donating a kidney or a heart or a liver.”
As stated before, face transplants are still rare procedures but they are happening. One of the first successful face transplants Happened in Victoria Australia in 1996, however in that case it wasn’t a transplant it was just re-attaching a woman’s own face. What do you think of this new change to being an “organ donor”, soon the chances are the next time you renew or apply for a car licence you may have a whole new choice of where to draw the line on organ donations.