Engineers at Vanderbilt University have devised an experimental surgical assistance device by filling a silicone head covering with fine coffee grounds. The combination of materials is meant to improve the accuracy of “GPS” tracking of a patients head during head and neck surgeries.

The “granular jamming cap,” as it is known, is placed over a patient’s head on the operating table and tightened by removing air from the coffee “pouch” with a small vacuum. This creates a custom-shaped “brick” that conforms to the patient’s head more reliably than the current standard, an elastic headband. The granular jamming cap is covered with tracking dots that an overhead camera follows with pinpoint accuracy to help guide surgeons and alert them to minute movements that may not otherwise be picked up during an intricate surgery.

Click here to read more about this project on Vanderbilt’s Research Outlet.