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Could Surgeons Operate Using the Internet?

Could the 'Internet of Skills' Be the Next Technological Leap?
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As the internet continues to drive innovative ideas, some scientists envision a world where people can do their jobs from anywhere in the world.

Could Surgeons Operate Using the Internet?
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Mischa Dohler is a professor at King’s College in London, England.

He also plays the piano and writes music.

Dohler wants to teach people how to play the piano using the internet.

“Kids or anybody could learn how to play the piano really properly from the best musicians in the world,” he said.

Dohler’s idea is to create a glove that the piano student could wear while practicing. This glove could connect over the internet to the teacher, who could be anywhere in the world.

The teacher could then help the student learn proper technique without being in the same room.

The glove would help move the student’s hands into the correct position to play the music.

The idea of a person on one side of the world using the internet to accomplish a task on the other side of the world is called “the internet of skills.”

Dohler also wants people in the medical industry to use the internet of skills.

Doctors already use robots to help them perform difficult tasks like medical operations. But they are in the same room as the robot and patient.

If a doctor could do remote surgery, it could help save people’s lives in places where highly skilled doctors are not available.

The only problem is that, right now, the internet is not fast enough to support this idea.

To perform a difficult task like surgery, a doctor in one place would have to make a movement, and the robot would have to be able to make the same movement within 10 milliseconds.

A demonstration of remote-control surgery at a technology conference in California.
A demonstration of remote-control surgery at a technology conference in California.

Companies are working to develop systems that can move data, or information, faster.

Eve Griliches is a Product Line Manager at Cisco Systems. Cisco develops systems that connect people over the internet.

Griliches said “the internet of skills” would not be possible without the work companies like hers are doing to create high-speed video networks.

The same systems that provide video to iPhones and laptops may someday help teach piano or save a life.

Dohler recently discussed his ideas at a conference on communication technology in Los Angeles, California.

He said he came up with the virtual piano teaching idea when he thought about all the other work people do using digital tools.

“We use digital today to negotiate for jobs. We use LinkedIn, emails, etc.,” Dohler said. “But then to execute the work, we still need to drive. We need to fly. We need to walk. So I was thinking, ‘Could we virtualize it? Could we digitize skills?’”

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story Learning English based on reporting by VOA’s Elizabeth Lee. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Do you think surgeons will one day be able to operate on a patient on the other side of the world? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

proper – n. a general direction of change : a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common

glove – n. a covering for the hand that has separate parts for each finger

practice – v. to do something again and again in order to become better at it

technique – n. the way that a person performs basic physical movements or skills

accomplish – v. to succeed in doing something

remote – adj. far away

virtual – adj. existing or occurring on computers or on the Internet

execute – v. to do or perform an action