Tech Gym - using robotics for rehabilitation
We started our project as a part of the subject “Summer Studio A”, through the Robotic Rehabilitation studio, which started at the end of 2017. We chose robotic rehabilitation to gain more hands-on experience with robots and improve our programming skills.
Our supervisors brought in a range of sensors and robots for us to learn about and eventually begin programming. We worked with robots such as a UR3 by Universal Robot, Xbox Kinect cameras, LEAP Motion hand tracking cameras, EMG machines and EEG machines.
Following design thinking steps to highlight an existing problem in society and develop an innovative solution for it, Nisha was able to develop “Rehab To The Beat”, a virtual piano rehabilitation device for stroke patients to use at home or in their hospital bed.
Rowan then developed “Universal Care”, a robotic assistance device that detaches the physiotherapist from the patients. By doing this, the physiotherapist can use a hand controlled mode to move the arm or can set a series of independent games or exercises for the patient to play.
Under the guidance of Dr Gavin Paul and Dr Marc Carmichael, the class continued to collaborate and brainstorm until we came up with the idea of a “Tech Gym”, a place where people can come to be rehabilitated but with updated equipment that evolves around cutting edge technology. By the end of the six week period, the class had come up with a range of stations for clients to use in the Tech Gym.
[overlay] UTS Tech Gym
Hi I'm Thirunisha Thirumurugan. Hi I'm Rowan Smith and we're the co-founders of Tech Gym. Tech Gym is our startup company and we've been working on it since the start of this year out of summer studio robotic rehabilitation.
We were allowed to play with a lot of robots, cameras and sensors and despite our interest in creating our own start up in rehabilitation. Our first product today is universal care. The universal care is my first prototype. I started working on it after my Nan had a stroke at the end of last year. Watching her go through this process was difficult and I realised there's actually a few things wrong in the process.
Typically, what physiotherapists do currently is manhandle patients, physically repeating the same exercise over and over again. Now this is actually causing themselves self injury. Actually 67% of physiotherapists get injured in their line of work. So what Tech Gym is doing, is aiming to detach the physiotherapist from the patient. Now what we do is we put the patient's arm into the cast on the robot. The robot can be controlled by the physiotherapist or it can be controlled by the game.
For the physiotherapist control the robot they move their hand in front of the camera the patient will attempt to follow them and when they can't the robot will move with them. They can also be put into the game now this means as they move their arm about they can do daily exercises such as cooking and cleaning, rebuilding the strengths they need to go back to everyday life. The robot can provide different levels of support as well, so as the patient progresses so will the robot’s support.
The next product we have is the rehab to the beat. Rehab to the beat or the art to the beat is a virtual piano that replicates a patient's hand movement into their computer screen. This music therapy device allows the patient to develop piano playing skills while rehabilitating. This device can be used at home where the patient is more comfortable. The current exercises for developing finger strength are buttoning and unbuttoning their shirts putting pebbles in a car. We developed rehab to the beat to improve their motivation in rehabilitation.
The next step for Tech Gym is go to the Virginia Tech global entrepreneurial challenge. We're really excited to represent our University and also showcase our company for the first time.
[overlay] University of Technology Sydney © 2018 CRICOS 00099F
In March, we showcased our product in the Summer Studio Exhibition, which was a huge success and allowed us to network with other UTS departments such as the Centre of Autonomous Systems, and with the general public.
The two of us also presented Tech Gym in a UTS internal pitching competition, where we had five minutes to present a business plan. Having won that, UTS is now helping us prepare for the Virginia Tech Global Entrepreneur Challenge, taking place in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA in the middle of August 2018.
One highlight of the pitching event was being questioned by the judges, as we were able to really go into detail about our products and showcase our passion for our work. The questions also challenged the two of us by highlighting any problems we had not answered yet ourselves. This meant that in the moment, we had to quickly think on the spot to come up with a creative and accurate answer. Another highlight was being given the opportunity to showcase a major piece of work to a diverse audience, providing us with a platform to see what features people liked and didn’t like.
As with any startup company there are always successes and hurdles. We received excellent feedback from the judges during our pitch and invaluable advice to continue forward. Doing this hasn’t been an easy run, however - having the confidence and the knowledge of what steps to take next has been one of our biggest challenges.
To overcome this, we have approached a range of networks and sources across UTS. Speaking with Dr Michael Lee from the School of Health has given us advice on how to improve our product development. Speaking with other young entrepreneurs from Construction Cloud, a UTS startup which competed at Virgina Tech in 2016, provided us with the confidence and the support we needed to improve our pitch.
Our next steps will be to engage with a diverse range of physiotherapists and their patients to find out what they love and hate about our products.