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This motion-controlled surgical endoscopy tool is DIY genius

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Not that I'd want my appendix taken out with it

The da Vinci system is probably the most popular surgical robot in the US, but it's never been operated like this before. An enterprising hacker got their hands on one of the da Vinci's delicate mechanical tools, and has managed to connect the hardware up to a Leap Motion controller — making its tiny surgical forceps gesture operated.

The video above (from YouTube user Julien Schuermans) shows how the trick is done. As explained by Hackaday, four Arduino-controlled servos are fitted to the pulleys and cables that operate the rotation, angle, and gripping mechanism of the da Vinci's tool. Gesture input is captured by the Leap Motion controller and then converted into instructions for these servos, allowing the operator to move the endoscopic tool about with just a wave of the hand.

This is how the da Vinci's endoscopic tools are usually controlled.

It's very impressive but, more likely than not, extremely impractical. Although the da Vinci system has been in use since the year 2000, its benefits have been questioned, with studies showing that complication rates from da Vinci surgeries aren't much better than those performed using non-robotic equipment. They're also more expensive for the patient. Adding imprecise gesture-controls to the mix wouldn't help improve this state of affairs, but it's still fascinating to see how hacking culture can innovate in non-consumer tech industries.