Traditional methods for hand and arm rehabilitation often take place at the clinician's facility. This requires the use of specialised rehabilitation equipment, only available at a clinic. This can make it difficult to adapt various exercise routines and schedules to suit different patients. Additionally, in-clinic visit for rehabilitation can be costly and time-consuming, especially when for patients living in remote areas. For those that are able to perform home-based rehabilitation, it is also often very costly to install the necessary rehabilitation equipment. Furthermore, without the aid of regular reminders and the visualisation of progress, it is difficult to track and quantify the patient's recovery over time - for both clinicians and the patients themselves.
To address this problem, the research team have developed the ‘ArmLog’ prototype. ArmLog senses and communicates bodily information including grip strength and arm movement. The device is a lightweight hand held assessment tool with a soft grip that measures grip strength as well as movement. It is shaped as a cylinder device with the outside sleeve made of soft foam which contains sensors to provide a fine-grained assessment of grip strength and grip location.
This project is significant for research on natural user interfaces (NUIs) as it addresses the question how grip strength can be used as an input to interactive technology. The ArmLog has the capability to detect grip strength as well as the location of the grip on the device. In this project, information was used to distinguish grip capabilities between different muscle parts to provide assessment capability in a teleconsultation setting.
Researchers at the SocialNUI research centre are uniquely equipped to apply a human-centred perspective to healthcare delivery. The relationships between patients, carers and healthcare providers are complex and subtle. By better understanding the social characteristics of these relationships we will be able to pinpoint specific ways technology can support them, in both remote and face-to-face contexts.
Thuong Hoang, Research Fellow, Microsoft Research Centre for SocialNUI, University of Melbourne
Weiyi Zhang, Masters Student, Microsoft Research Centre for SocialNUI, University of Melbourne
Tristan Beven, Masters Student, Microsoft Research Centre for SocialNUI, University of Melbourne
Bernd Ploderer, Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology & Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne
Marcus Carter, Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney
Beven, T., Hoang, T., Carter, M., & Ploderer, B. (in press) HandLog: A Deformable Tangible Device for Continuous Input through Finger Flexion. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction (OzCHI 2016), November 2016, Launceston, Australia. [PDF]