Sony Corporation (“Sony”) has announced the launch of a head-mount image processing unit capable of receiving and outputting endoscope image signals, or controlling video images, which can then be displayed in 3D or 2D on an accompanying head-mounted monitor. The head-mounted monitor can also be purchased separately as an optional extra.

Laparoscopic surgery, whereby an endoscope is inserted through multiple keyhole incisions in a patient’s abdomen allowing the surgeon to confirm video images displayed on a monitor in real time, is becoming increasingly widespread as a procedure that minimizes the strain on patients when compared to open surgery.

Furthermore, in recent years, realistic 3D images capable of conveying visual depth-related information related in high definition and with extreme precision have been recognized as providing significant advantages in the medical field, and there is great potential demand for this technology.

This year, a number of medical device manufacturers have released 3D-compatible endoscopes on the market and these devices have gained attention for their extremely accurate three-dimensional images of the area being operated on, and thereby contribute to improving surgical precision. Consequently, there has been an increase in demand for high-precision 3D images and monitors.

Accordingly, Sony is launching a head-mount image processor, which includes a 3D head-mounted monitor, and is compatible with 3D surgical laparoscope. It incorporates Sony's advanced 3D and display-related technologies to realize a standard of 3D images that meet the demands of medical professionals, and proposes new workflows.

The new unit maximizes the technological advantages of OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels to enable extremely detailed image representation of the target area. These characteristics include high resolution, superb reproduction of blacks, excellent video image response times, and precise color reproduction. Two panels are fitted inside the monitor: one each for the left and right eye. Independent HD images are displayed on the left and right panels respectively with no crosstalk (the phenomenon of images appearing in duplicate), in order to display the target area in high definition, with faithful color reproduction and highly-precise information relating to depth.

In conventional laparoscopic procedures, surgeons generally have to check the images on an external monitor as they perform the surgery, restricting their posture and movement. However, Sony's head-mounted display enables the surgeons to position themselves flexibly as they perform their procedures, supporting smooth workflow procedures in addition to the benefit of a 3D image display.

Furthermore, Sony's 'Picture in Picture (PinP)' capability enables two images to be displayed simultaneously. Images can also be flipped to the left, right, up, or down, for different display perspectives. For example, if a team of surgeons are working together in the same operating theater, this feature can be utilized to enable laparoscopic images from the operating surgeon to be viewed by other surgeons or assistants standing in other positions, and each can view the laparoscopic images from their respective viewing angle. Sony aims to contribute to the development of 3D laparoscopic surgery by providing functionality of this nature that meets the latest operating theater needs.

Sony is positioning the medical business as one of its mid- to long-term growth areas, and was quick to focus on the potential of 3D imaging in the medical field. Based on the 3D technologies and know-how accumulated through Sony's research and development in professional broadcasting equipment and other areas, the company has already established a proven track record in peripheral medical devices such as 3D cameras, which are already fitted to optical microscopes and medical 3D recorders. Sony is launching this new medical product with the objective of further contributing to the medical arena, and will aim to continue to provide high-grade, innovative products in the future.

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