Angela Robert manipulates on-screen ‘hands’ in an operating room.

Health tech hub opens in Surrey

43 companies pack Whalley offices of Surrey’s latest technical innovation space.

A surgeon turns from his patient in the midst of his procedure, and waves his hands through a blue beam of light beside him.

The motion triggers a series of menus, allowing the doctor to manipulate real time images, providing a 3D look at the catheter being placed near the lung.

The imaging diagnostics, known as Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) isn’t new.

It’s the space-age way the surgeon is manipulating them without touching a thing.

The Touchless Interaction with PACS System saves surgical time in scrubbing up and reduces the chance of infection, according to Nishant Uniyal, software designer for NZ Technologies, which created the device.

The technology will likely be featured in surgical rooms for clinical testing at Vancouver Hospital in the next year or so, Uniyal says.

It was unveiled at the opening of Surrey’s Health Tech Innovation Hub, designed to link medical technologies with local universities, the private sector and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

There are currently 43 companies at the City Centre building, according to CEO Dianne Watts. She also says there’s a sizable waiting list for space at the hub.

Next door to the touchless imaging system is the Hub’s Artificial Intelligence room. There, Conquer Mobile’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Aaron Hilton uses an iPad to create a 3-D scan of a person’s head.

The scan works for any part of the body, is measurement perfect, and will be used to create ideal fitting prosthetic limbs.

Imagine, Hilton said, being able to scan someone, and instantly have that image available to a 3-D scanner which will actually create the limb .

He said it will cut down the cost and time involved in obtaining prosthetic limbs.

Conquer CEO, Angela Robert, works with a headset which creates a real operating room feel. The headset will be used to train surgical staff how and when to hand the correct instruments to doctors.

Called PeriopSim, the headset simulates real surgical conditions, and hones the speed at which correct instruments are provided to doctors.

The key to being great at it is handing surgical equipment before the surgeon has to ask for it, Robert said.

The hub was abuzz on Thursday during its grand opening, where several groups where showcasing their health industry gear.

There was a company that created a wheelchair with airbags in case it tipped, saving the person in it from serious injury.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University alumna Jolie Hart had playful clothing designed for girls with medical challenges.

Her business card describes the clothing as “whimsical comfort for little girls with complex care.”

On display was an orange top, with pre-made holes to accommodate any medical tubing a youngster might need.

The Health Tech Innovation Hub is part of the city’s vision of Innovation Boulevard, a connection between local universities, the private sector and Surrey Memorial Hospital. It is located at 13737 96 Ave.