BENGALURU: A research team at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing of the Indian Institute of Science has designed a robotic arm that can be activated by eye movement using a computer interface to help those with Severe Speech and Motor Impairment (SSMI). The gaze-controlled computer interfaces can help them perform various tasks on par with their non-disabled peers.
The team worked with young adult students who have SSMI in Chennai. “Many of these students with cerebral palsy are not able to precisely focus at a single point in their visual field, due to uncontrolled gaze movement. They are also not comfortable looking at all portions of the visual field equally,” said project lead Pradipta Biswas, Assistant Professor at CPDM.
Biswas and his team used computer vision and machine learning algorithms to analyse live feeds of facial video from the users, and were able to estimate where the user was looking. They coupled this with an Augmented Reality application to allow the user to use a robotic arm for tasks like picking up and dropping objects, and placing them where they desire, as long as it is within the reach of the robotic arm.
One of the main applications of this gaze-controlled robotic arm is rehabilitation of young adults with SSMI through tasks such as fabric printing. They usually require assistance in doing such tasks as they can only do a small part of it by themselves. Using the robotic arm, people with SSMI can use their eye gaze to perform mechanical tasks that can help them work on handicrafts independently.
This technology can also be used by younger individuals with SSMI to move toys like cars. “We are using play as a medium to teach new technologies, which they can use for the rest of their lives,” added Biswas. Further modifications to this tool could also allow young individuals with SSMI to use it for e-learning.Biswas also said that such a system could be useful for automotive and aeronautical applications as well as for developing collaborative robots used in smart manufacturing.