52 States in 8 Months

Cybernetics combines Cyberspace and Cyborgs!

Posted in University stuff by Ulf on January 17, 2009

bild4858bild4861Most of the research in our lab is somehow related to the human body. Well, mine isn’t. But we have a lot of Ph.D. students who are for example working on robots for small disabled children and walking machines for stroke patients. Naturally we do a lot of experiments with healthy people, too.

On Friday I was the “guinea pig” in an experiment for Mehmet’s thesis. He did not want to tell me what exactly the experiment would be about, but I somehow I have a clue ;-). Anyway, the preparation started with fitting a shoe and an exoskeleton-like brace to my right leg. So I was just standing around while Huny and Mehmet were working on my leg.

Afterwards we went to the Physical Therapy Department of the University of Delaware. They have a room which is equipped with a treadmill and almost a dozen of infrared cameras with infrared headlamps. You’ll notice the bright NIR lights on the pictures. The human eye obviously sees almost nothing. It does not even get warm if you put your hand in front of them, so they can’t be very powerful.

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I’d guess that my brace was the cheapest part of the equipment in this room. I mean, even the treadmill was so advanced, it offered two different belts so that one could move the left leg at a different speed than the right one. That’s a feature they use for stroke patients. And the treadmill had a lot of force sensors, of course. And an IP address: 192.168.0.150. I’m sure one could use them for Ethernet-controlled experiments with little hamsters in their hamster wheels ;-).

In this lab I met Josh who is also doing an Ph.D. in the area of biomechanics. Josh prepared some reflectors which he later fixed to my body while Mehmet did some final adjustments on the brace and on my shoe:

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So, as the final moment came closer, Josh equipped me with those little reflectors which could be spotted by the IR cameras. In fact, most of them are somewhere on my back so you can’t see them on the pictures. Finally I jumped on the treadmill and started walking. They figured out that my “comfortable” walking speed is around 1.3 m/s which is about 2.9 mph (4.68 km/h). Am I really such a traffic blocker when walking? I hoped to do at least 5 km/h! Anyway, the experiment was designed for about 1.0 or 1.1 m/s, so I could live with it :-).

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If you like, you can also see a little video of my treadmill walking:

Do you want to see some results from these experiments? You won’t! At least not right now. When I was walking, I did not engage the pressure sensors near the front of my foot properly. So on the computer it looked like I was using me heels only. Sorry about that, but we’ll do another run on Thursday. I’ll also show you a picture of myself in some cyberspace then!

Update: I walked around the Newark Reservoir today. The markers on the path say that I covered a distance of 1.1 miles. It took me 18:53 minutes at my normal walking speed. The Google Calculator converts this to 5.6 km/h (or 1.56 m/s or 3.5 mph).
After walking around the reservoir I took the bike. At least on the first three quarters I tried to push like hell. My lap time was a 4:13, but I guess I can deduce a few seconds for putting my stop clock into a pocket and taking it out again. Anyway, this is about 16mph or 25km/h.

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2 Responses

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  1. Martin said, on January 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Why you have to waer “Windeln” while doing the experiment. And I wonder what my walking speed would be. And last but not least, 25km/h with the bike? And you where pushing? Uuuuulf, you need some training badly. And no, I repeat NO excuses that the bike was bad :P

  2. […] Posted in University stuff by Ulf on February 6th, 2009 In mid January ago I told you about an experiment which I took part in. On the first run however, there were some problems with the pressure sensors […]


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