PARIS, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A heads-up display could provide 3-D guidance for astronauts and assist them in diagnosing medical problems or even performing surgery, European engineers say.
The Computer Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System is a wearable augmented reality prototype being developed by the European Space Agency that will combine computer-generated graphics with the wearer's view.
The technology is currently focused on ultrasound examinations but in principle could guide other procedures, an ESA release said Monday.
Future astronauts venturing farther into space must be able to deal with medical situations, researchers said.
"Although medical expertise will be available among the crew to some extent, astronauts cannot be trained and expected to maintain skills on all the medical procedures that might be needed," said Arnaud Runge, a biomedical engineer overseeing the project.
CAMDASS uses a stereo head-mounted display and an ultrasound tool tracked via an infrared camera, with 3-D augmented reality cue cards displayed in the headset to guide the wearer.
Reference ultrasound images give users an indication of what they should be seeing and guide the wearer to position and move the ultrasound probe.
The prototype has been tested for usability at a Belgian hospital where untrained users found they could perform a reasonably difficult procedure without assistance with effective probe positioning.