In a recent Microsoft forum on health care technology, researchers made clear the company is hoping to have a larger presence in the healthcare arena using the Windows Phone 7 series platform and the Xbox 360.  They are also experimenting with connecting these products to HealthVault, their personal health records platform.

The “dream” is that a user could photograph each meal with their phone to have the application return data such as caloric content, food group and allergy information for each item on a plate, said Eric Chang, director of technology strategy at Microsoft Research Asia, in an interview.

Other Microsoft researchers are looking at how the company’s Xbox 360 could be used in hospital rooms.

I think Microsoft has already seen how interactive gaming devices, such as the Nintendo Wii have been used for health care purposes – and want in on the action.  An example is how the Nintendo Wii has been used to help burn victims with their rehab process.  The Wii’s ability to recognize physical movements has been used in burn centers to improve patients mobility while recovering from burns affecting the hands and arms.  Microsoft has its own interactive gaming device releasing this year, and it’s not restricted to hand movements.

With Project Natal, Microsoft’s controller free gaming and entertainment experience, the possibilities for physical therapy and other medical use are huge [Natal plugs into a Xbox 360].  Unlike the Wii’s interactive experience, which requires you to have a controller while making physical motions, the Project Natal Platform can recognize your whole body movement, and could be used to rehab more than just your hand.

Imagine having interactive games that simulate your physical therapy workout.  Most patients hate physical therapy because of the initial pain they have to endure, making compliance one of the chief issues.  An interactive gaming experience such as Project Natal could be used to enhance this experience – and take patients minds away from the pain.  With Nintendo Wii laying the groundwork for health care physical rehab use, it’s only a matter of time we see Project Natal in the same light.

Source: [PC World via Gizmodo]