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Patients Find Robotic Arm Technology Is Too Easy




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#1 Apparelyzed

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 11:42 AM

Patients find robotic arm technology is too easy

Aman Behal, an Assistant Professor at UCF, and his research team have created a robotic arm that assists patients with severe spinal cord injuries, but have found that participants find the technology to be too easy.

According to Behal, the arm took about two years to complete and is designed to attach to the side of a wheelchair. It is connected to various sensors that are able to make the robot see, as well as sense motion.

The robotic arm operates in two modes, by either clicking or touching an object from a computer screen, or manually typing in commands for the robot to perform.

There are various ways to access the robot, by touch, voice command or even by tracking head motions.

Rebekah Hazlett, who is currently completing the final year of her Ph.D. in the Public Affairs program at UCF, first conducted focus group meetings with spinal cord injury patients in order to understand the ways in which an individual with traumatic spinal cord injury learned and adapted to new technology such as the robotic arm.

"My desire to empower consumers of both social services and assistive technology to have a voice in their own services really fueled my interest in this project," Hazlett said.

Using the information collected from the focus groups, researchers then went on to conduct a pilot study to test the robot's effectiveness in daily activities.

Ten participants from the Orlando Health Rehabilitation Institute participated in the robotic arm's study for about a month. During that time the participants performed various activities, such as grabbing a cereal box, toothpaste and a remote, that are considered to be basic, everyday tasks.

Objects used in the study varied in sizes, such as curved or flat; positions, such as upright versus down; and heights, in order to compare how well the robot and participants responded to each task.

Although tasks were performed quicker by clicking or touching an object on a computer screen, participants mainly preferred manually typing in commands.

"Participants were frustrated in just sitting back and watching the arm do all the work," Behal said.

Behal went on to explain that participants didn't want to fully rely on the robot, but wanted to use their maximum potential. "We need to offer a spectrum to patients where the robot doesn't take over the whole task, but also can provide the help where it is needed."

The main concern for the robotic arm now is the psychological relationship between humans and the robot and making the arm more interactive with participants.

That is where researchers like Melissa Smith, a senior at UCF and majoring in psychology, come in.

"They needed a person not from the mechanical or electrical point of view, but a person focusing on the user access aspect," Smith said.

Smith has been a part of the research team for about a year and a half and works on the human factors analysis of the robot, which requires her to consider multiple ways in making the arm more user-friendly and to optimize its usage.

Currently the team is writing a paper regarding the results on how the robot preformed to submit to the International Conference on Intelligent User Interface, IUI, which is a forum for reporting research and development on intelligent user interfaces.

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#2 edlee

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 08:41 PM

This is the kind of result one sees when an engineer has a solution,,, and is in search of the right problem to use it on. On the other hand,, the early personal computers were much the same,, and look where that's taken us.

ed

Edited by edlee, 11 October 2010 - 08:42 PM.


#3 Tetracyclone

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 10:46 PM

If a person can type why is s/he using a robotic arm?

Help me understand.

#4 HiltonP

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 08:41 AM

Patients find robotic arm technology is too easy
"Participants were frustrated in just sitting back and watching the arm do all the work," Behal said.

I find this hard to believe, and have to wonder what type of "participants" were being used (fellow engineers, bored teenagers?).
Personally, as someone with very limited arm and hand use, I'd give my left nut to have a robotic arm!
Far from being frustrated by it, you'd not be able to get the smile off my face! :)


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