The speakers were from SUMMIT, a group at Stanford trying to promote and produce simulations for teaching medicine. Some of their sims are hardware, such as a device which gives the look and feel of installing a catheter, and some are software.
As usual at Apple's Town Hall room, they had some problems setting up the links to the outside world, so some of their demos did not function completely, and the best one didn't function at all. But they showed enough to show the state of their art, which I would label as "not ready for prime time".
They have the right idea, though - let students practice on simulators before they are allowed near real patients. So far their tests have showed an 8x increase in efficiency in OR staff who have trained on sims vs those who haven't. But they are fighting an entrenched medical teaching profession which doesn't like to change its techniques, even though the med profession embraces new technology in the real world. Them that can't...
They showed a nice demo of a patient interview trainer - a video pops up on the screen showing a talking head patient, he describes his symptoms, You type in questions, and the video plays a segment which matches whatever their keyword finder latched onto. The patient is a white 20-something blonde male, speaking standard US English. When asked, the presenter said they have not branched out to include people with accents. Amusing since she's Indian herself, and the other presenters were Chinese-American, African-American and an Old Country Doctor with a thick southern accent.
Another amusement was a sim they had for preparing medical personnel and law enforcement for seren gas attack. The interface was stolen directly from There.com (I was a charter member). The brand name on the software is Forterra, which sold off There.com to concentrate on slurping up post-911 knee-jerk Defense department dollars.
In There.com, when you click on another person's avatar, it lets you chat with them. In the Stanford program, clicking on another person's avatar has your avatar pat him down and report whether or not the other person is packing heat. Very un-There-like.
On the one hand, I liked what I saw, but on the other hand, it is amateurish compared to what I think Stanford is capable of. They said there may be an open house at their lab soon, I think I'll check it out, and maybe see if they could use me.
While I was in the meeting, my phone vibrated - it was Noi calling from Bangkok. I called her back after the meeting, and she had received my letter with the photos and stamps. I asked if she could understand my very poor Thai writing, and she said there were a couple of grammar errors, but she understood it okay. Talking with her underscores how very poor my Thai vocabulary has become. She launched into English to tell me that a friend told her a US Visa was hard to get. Luckily the US embassy has a Thai-language web site, so this morning I emailed her links to their visa info. We're shooting for June or July, though I think she said she might not be able to come. She would rather have me come there again. Sigh.