BreakThrough Study Idea

High-speed tracking assists procedures such as working using microscopes or robotic surgeriesMasatoshi Ishikawa

<Series 3 / complete>


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Previously, in Part 2, Mr. Ishikawa spoke about “High-speed vision”, which is one of his research achievements. It can be applied to the human interface and is also expected to be used for medical care. In part 3, “High-speed tracking” that is closely related to medical care will be discussed.

High-speed Tracking Assists Work Using Microscopes

Among my research achievements, “High-speed tracking” technology is making progress in applications to medical care. This technology captures moving objects keeping them in the middle of the field of vision.
For example, the initial speed of a smash hit by a table tennis professional is 200 km/h, and if the table tennis ball traveling at a speed of 200 km/h is captured using high-speed tracking, even the rotation of the ball can be seen clearly (see photo at the beginning).
High-speed tracking can be used even when working with microscopes. For example, when observing live paramecium, usually, it is difficult to observe the appearance only by seeing the appearance which occasionally crosses the field of vision. However, with high-speed tracking, the moving paramecium is always captured at the center of the field of vision, and the paramecium appears to be stationary to the researcher enabling even the internal organs to be observed. This technology is being used even at the University of Tokyo to study ascidian spermatozoa and Chlamydomonas.

This technology can also be applied to surgery. When working under microscopes, even experienced physicians cannot avoid the shaking of the hand called tremor. However, high-speed tracking can be used to control tremors. It does not mean that the tremors are stopped, but by performing reverse phase processing of the images with respect to the tremors, the images in the field of vision appear without the effect of tremors and surgical techniques can be performed easily.

A microscope device for high-speed tracking and a Paramecium being tracked

I always considered that observation using microscopes was carried out on the premise that objects which are being observed do not move, and this application made me realize the advances in technology. I feel that high-speed tracking has more potential in the field of medical care such as cystoscopy, and there may problems that need to be addressed?

High-speed Tracking Along the Depth Direction

High-speed tracking was initially intended for tracking movements on a planar surface, and tracking in the depth direction has now become possible with the development of a “High-speed variable focus lens”. Previous technology could be adjusted at a rate of 100 Hz, and it is now possible to adjust at high rates of 8000 Hz. It could be used in clinics for applications such as cystoscopy only after high-speed tracking in the depth direction became possible.
The high-speed tracking technology is being applied to dynamic projection mapping. The projection mapping of Tokyo Station and Disneyland became famous, but the images were displayed on stationary walls.
The high-speed tracking technology can be used to project images on moving objects by tracking them. For example, you can project images of the earth which is spinning onto a moving ball.
As we go forward with this technology, I think it will be possible to display MRI images of patients on moving internal organs during surgery for providing accurate guidance on the points where surgery is required.

A high-speed variable focus lens

Practical applications of high-speed tracking will not only improve the accuracy of cystoscopy, but it will also lead to reducing the testing time. With cutting-edge technology, the future where the increase in demand for medical care will be met may be near. What are the focus areas for applications other than medical care?

Identify Flaws of 0.2 Size on Walls While Moving at Speeds of 100 km/h

The application field that is especially attracting attention outside medical care is the inspection of walls along the expressways. On expressways, the goal is to inspect the walls while traveling at speeds of 100 km/h. The reason for this is, if inspections can be performed while moving at speeds of 100 km/h, then the movement of other vehicles will not be disturbed, and traffic need not be stopped. The mechanism involves recording images of the wall with the high-speed vision that works even at 100 km/h, and tracks when scratches of 0.2 mm or more are photographed. With this, the shape, size, and location of the scratches can be identified. Field tests are being conducted with NEXCO in Japan, and it will take some time before it can be put to practical use.

Also, the technology called “Fast scanning” may also help the field of medical care.
Fast scan is a technology that can scan 250 pages per minute. Documents such as books are placed facing upwards, and the scan is completed by recording pictures from the top by flipping the pages with an automatic page-turning device. Since the pages are flipped and scanned while the pages are moving, the characters appear distorted, and the tracking technology is used to restore the characters to their original form. If old hand-written medical records are scanned utilizing this technology, it will enable digitization in one shot.

Interview Date: March 11, 2019



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High-speed tracking assists procedures such as working using microscopes or robotic surgeries

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Masatoshi Ishikawa
Dean, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo

1977 Graduated from Department of Mathematical Engineering and Information Physics, School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo 1979 Completed diploma and master’s course from the Department of Mathematical Engineering and Information Physics, School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, and became Dr. of Engineering in 1988 (University of Tokyo). He was a senior researcher at the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) in 1979, and he worked as an assistant professor at the Department of Mathematical Engineering and Information Physics, School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo since 1989. Next, he served as a director and associate dean of the University of Tokyo and has been in his current post since 2016.
His field of specialization is systems informatics (sensor engineering, robotics, image processing, perception and behavior systems, bio-information processing). He is engaged in the research on sensor fusion, massively parallel high-speed vision, high-speed robots, visual feedback, meta-perception, optics in computing, intelligent tactile sensors, and circuit models of bioinformation.
In addition to numerous awards at domestic and international conferences, he was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon, in November 2011.

◇Major Publications as Co-author
“Robot Control Handbook” (Kindai Kagaku Sha Co., Ltd,) Published in December 2017
“Introduction to Information Network Science” (Corona Publishing Co., Ltd) Published in October 2015, and various other books

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