A novel gaze-controlled flexible robotized endoscope; preliminary trial and report.
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Background Interventional endoluminal therapy is rapidly advancing as a minimally invasive surgical technique. The expanding remit of endoscopic therapy necessitates precision control. Eye tracking is an emerging technology which allows intuitive control of devices. This was a feasibility study to establish if a novel eye gaze-controlled endoscopic system could be used to intuitively control an endoscope.Methods An eye gaze-control system consisting of eye tracking glasses, specialist cameras and a joystick was used to control a robotically driven endoscope allowing steering, advancement, withdrawal and retroflexion. Eight experienced and eight non-endoscopists used both the eye gaze system and a conventional endoscope to identify ten targets in two simulated environments: a sphere and an upper gastrointestinal (UGI) model. Completion of tasks was timed. Subjective feedback was collected from each participant on task load (NASA Task Load Index) and acceptance of technology (Van der Laan scale).Results When using gaze-control endoscopy, non-endoscopists were significantly quicker when using gaze-control rather than conventional endoscopy (sphere task 3:54 ± 1:17 vs. 9:05 ± 5:40 min, p = 0.012, and UGI model task 1:59 ± 0:24 vs 3:45 ± 0:53 min, p < .001). Non-endoscopists reported significantly higher NASA-TLX workload total scores using conventional endoscopy versus gaze-control (80.6 ± 11.3 vs 22.5 ± 13.8, p < .001). Endoscopists reported significantly higher total NASA-TLX workload scores using gaze control versus conventional endoscopy (54.2 ± 16 vs 26.9 ± 15.3, p = 0.012). All subjects reported that the gaze-control had positive 'usefulness' and 'satisfaction' score of 0.56 ± 0.83 and 1.43 ± 0.51 respectively.Conclusions The novel eye gaze-control system was significantly quicker to use and subjectively lower in workload when used by non-endoscopists. Further work is needed to see if this would translate into a shallower learning curve to proficiency versus conventional endoscopy. The eye gaze-control system appears feasible as an intuitive endoscope control system. Hybrid gaze and hand control may prove a beneficial technology to evolving endoscopic platforms.
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Surgical endoscopy, 2021