Ericsson applies 5G to robotic surgeon's finger

Ericsson set out to prove that 5G could replace five fingers on a surgeon's hand, with a tactile robotic surgery demonstration at the 5G World 2016 event in London.

The company teamed with King's College London to offer the demonstration during the two-day event, which opened today. At this stage Ericsson has set up a single robotic 'finger' that it states is capable of providing a sense of touch to surgeons and could be used for minimally invasive surgery.

Valter D'Avino, head of Ericsson Western and Central Europe, said the simulation "can show how latency is a critical part of what 5G can deliver, bringing both the sense of touch and an essential real-time video feed to remote surgery."

Remote health applications are often cited as one of the main benefits that 5G technology could be capable of delivering. The Ericsson and King's College London demonstration is a step towards that vision, utilising real-time data to provide feedback through a Haptic glove.

Ericsson said the robot finger -- technically just a probe -- is capable of identifying hard nodules in soft tissue, meaning it can identify cancerous tissue and provide that information to surgeons.

The Haptic feedback is enhanced by a visual element and all of the data is processed through software defined networking that Ericsson explained is configured to provide the necessary quality of service by using end-to-end network slicing -- something it said is one of the newest concepts of 5G.

Professor Mischa Dohler, head of the centre for telecommunications research in the Department of Informatics at King's College London, said the demonstration shows that 5G has the potential to remove geographic boundaries in the healthcare industry.

"By 5G enabling enhanced minimally invasive remote surgery, the number of applications escalates and the advantages are no longer geographically localised. It enables worldwide mentorship and scalability of diagnosis and intervention," Dohler said.

For more:
- see this Ericsson announcement

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