Automating Talking Mannequins, Surgical Simulation

Published: July 2, 2014

Programming sophisticated, seamless automation is difficult enough when you’re just trying to automate audio, video and lighting.

The bar was raised somewhat for Level 3 Audio Visual when it provided integration and automation for a Cedars-Sinai simulation lab that included such automated features as robotic mannequins that know when to scream, bleed and even vomit.

The Mesa, Ariz.-based integration firm has dealt with robotics in simulation settings before, but “this was the most robust,” says Brad Peterson, CEO of Level 3’s Medical division.

“They had a mannequin in every single room. These are very sophisticated. They can bleed, vomit; they can do all the body functions as well as simulate any sort of complication, code blue, where the doctor or nurse has to run over and inject them with a particular medicine or serum and the mannequins react accordingly to what they inject into them — they’ll die of an overdose or they’ll come back from whatever complication they’re suffering from.”

3 Integrator Takeaways:
1. Sophisticated (and odd) automation tasks are becoming more common in health care simulation environments.
2. Recording and storage obstacles were overcome by “simulation curriculum mapping and intense control system programming.”
3. Level 3 overcame several challenges via conversations with manufacturers.

3 End User Takeaways:
1. If you have an unconventional request, find an integrator that knows how to troubleshoot.
2. Have a conversation about needs and visions for the project, but then let the integrator suggest appropriate products and solutions.
3. If you ask for it, a savvy Crestron programmer can probably deliver it … eventually.

Equipment Highlights:
Cameras: Sony
Microphones: Shure
Automation: Crestron
AV Distribution: Extron
Video Displays: Barco, Sharp
Speakers: SpeakerCraft

Then there’s the male versus female versus child voice curveball.

The Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills at Cedars-Sinai “came up with the idea that if the simulation is of a woman giving birth and having birth complications, there should be a female voice,” Peterson says.

“I was impressed by how it came out on our Crestron touchpanel control system. You can choose whether you want a male voice, a female voice or a child’s voice. So whether the [simulated patient] is male, female or a child, the voice will be consistent.”

Related: Complete List of 2014 CI & TD Integration Awards Winners

These seemingly advanced automation tasks are becoming commonplace in medical simulation labs. “This is not a pretend environment,” says Russell Metcalfe-Smith, manager of the simulation center. “This is a real hospital.”

So the stakes were high for Level 3. Its solution integrates mannequin technology; medical device and instrumentation technology; event recording; communications among the actors, doctors and nurses; AV distribution and transmission to down-stream participants; touchpanel control for simulation techs; and voice processing.

One challenging aspect involved the audio/video distribution. The point of recreating the hospital environment is so training and practicing can be recorded, analyzed and viewed remotely.

Related: Inside the Polarizing Health Care Market

“We faced a few challenges as the client was looking for a solution that provided realtime remote viewing of multiple cameras with HD resolution while also being able to record the same camera content at SD resolution through B-Line encoders,” Peterson says.

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