Based in Sydney, Australia, Macquarie University’s Surgical Skills Lab is a virtual test bed for exploring human anatomy. It’s also home to one of the most advanced AV-over-IP systems in the medical community, thanks to a recent technical overhaul. The system was designed and built in six weeks with a $75k-budget by Iain Brew, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Clinical AV & IT Coordinator and the lab team. It has since opened up new teaching opportunities for trainees and practicing surgeons looking to hone their skills in a realistic environment.
RovoCam, AJA’s compact block camera featuring an HDBaseT interface, and an accompanying AJA RovoRx-HDMI receiver were included as part of the upgrade to improve the delivery of video detailing surgical procedures and demonstrations. Since installation, Brew has seen a marked difference in the quality of imaging, especially when recording HD video for later review or reference. “Feedback on RovoCam’s image quality has been consistently positive. It’s given us the ability to acquire detailed, color accurate HD images at a competitive price point, especially as we can set white balance at the touch of a button on our control system remotely,” he explains.
Coupled with RovoCam, RovoRx-HDMI has also been a huge boon to the lab’s system. “RovoRx-HDMI has simplified connectivity and made it easier to hide connections. RovoCam’s built-in UltraHD sensor also gives us the option to easily transition to 4K when ready, without having to spend additional money,” Brew adds. “The RovoCam system has saved us thousands of dollars compared to similar solutions, all without compromising on usability or quality. It’s literally plug and play with a single cable, which makes it easier for our lab team and assistants to rapidly deploy the camera on demand.”
The lab includes ten operating stations, each with a surgical light, HD display and connectivity for an HD video source. RovoCam resides in an operating station reserved for teaching. Mounted with a Manfrotto Magic Arm, RovoCam either sits above the surgical field, or is clamped to the edge of a surgical table when a different perspective is required. A single CAT cable connected to the camera and a CAT socket in the room routes to RovoRx-HDMI. From there, the HDMI output is routed to a Gefen Video over IP HDMI receiver for inclusion as a source for the lab’s VoIP matrix system. Users control the RovoCam via RS232 through the RovoRx-HDMI using a Global Caché IP2SL-P device, which allows for camera commands to be issued over a dedicated IP control network using an iPad Pro running iRidium Mobile control software.
To successfully integrate RovoCam and RovoRx-HDMI into the system, Brew thoroughly planned out and tested the implementation before moving forward. Brew knew they’d need the right combination of equipment to facilitate everything from matrix video routing to high quality audio capture, processing and routing, HD recording and acquisition, and more. He first completed an audit, identifying how the lab could improve, and then evaluated budget-conscious technology that could enhance operations. Drawing on previous gear experiences and research, Brew and the team zeroed in on RovoCam for its plug-and-play design, single cable use, small size, mounting options, optical zoom and ability to function in a dynamic range of light.
“We looked at a number of products, but many only had digital zoom or a limited optical range compared to RovoCam’s optical zoom. Its simple connectivity also stood out among other products with multiple connections at the camera head, not to mention its unobtrusive size and ergonomics with a sealed design,” he shares. “Neither RovoCam’s 4K sensor nor scaling and ePTZ functions were requirements, but have turned out to be a huge bonus.”
From an integration and training standpoint, the RovoCam system has proven solid for the team at the lab. “RovoCam set up is effortless; it only requires a single CAT connection to carry power, control and vision, and it’s so easy to use and learn that the lab team haven’t needed to contact me for support,” he shares. “Its compact size is also an advantage, allowing us to mount RovoCam in several positions, without interfering with the surgical field. We simply mount it high out of the way, and access optical zoom for close ups.”