Sunday, January 31, 2010

High Definition Haptics in Manitoba

In mid-January, Amin – one of our engineers – and I had a chance to visit the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. We brought with us the High Definition Haptic Device, HD^2 (pronounced “H. D. Squared”) and demonstrated it to a group of physicians, researchers, and students in a seminar put on by the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering and the local IEEE Chapter. Our hosts, Drs. Bertram Unger and Nariman Sepehri, have been conducting research in virtual surgery and tele-operation.

We showed how the HD^2 could be used as a trainer for surgical procedures, as a rehabilitation device for stroke patients, or as a manipulator for robots. After the talk, we let the group test out the device. There was a only a slight gross-out factor with the virtual needle insertion demo, especially as one could feel how a needle passed through different layers of “meat” (Amin’s reference to tissue). Otherwise, most of those who tried out the HD^2 thought it was a very new sensation and experience.

In putting together the demonstration, one of the things that boggles me is the relative ease in developing haptic controllers through QUARC. While our Amin is extremely talented, it took him about half a day to create a stroke rehabilitation program – something that would have previously taken months with other software. The visualization feature he used is now part of QUARC 2.0

Here's a video of one of the demos:

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