Rodrigo Marino is working on a project that will allow dentists to peer into patients’ mouths on the other side of the country.
The dental specialist is among a group of Melbourne University boffins experimenting with high-speed internet connections they hope will revolutionise healthcare in Australia.
The university’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society has replicated the speed of the National Broadband Network to explore how it can be used when it is extended across the country.
Associate Professor Marino hopes some of the most isolated people in Australia will receive high-quality dental care over fast internet connections.
The institute’s teledentistry project allows dentists to conduct remote examinations using high-resolution video.
A dental assistant uses a wand-like camera to stream video from inside a patient’s mouth to a dentist’s computer in real time.
The dentist can talk to the assistant using a second video feed. The patient’s X-rays and medical files can also be transmitted during the consultation.
‘‘You can have access to world experts,’’ Professor Marino says.
The institute will test the technology in Victorian nursing homes next month. ‘‘This is the closest we can get to a real-life examination. There is no physical presence but the technology allows us to talk with a real person, exchange files, pictures, X-rays, anything.’’
Institute spokesman Adam Lodders says the institute brings together academics from many disciplines to explore new uses for high-speed internet.
The network offers download speeds of 100 megabits per second, similar to the NBN.
The institute has also conducted trials with iPads and social media applications to reduce loneliness in elderly people at risk of social isolation.