Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Field Trip to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

Our host, Dr. Geoff Fernie, TRI Director
As a kid, I always loved field trips, and could enjoy a few extra ones volunteering for my kids' school ones. Now, when the boys claim its embarrassing to have a parent around on such occasions, Quanser helped. Partnering and collaborating with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Canada's largest academic health sciences centre, for several years, the whole company got invited to visit the Institute and see how we are contributing to the great research going on in there.

The CEAL motion simulator
TRI is home to one of the world's most advanced rehabilitation facilities - Intelligent Design for Adaptation, Participation and Technology (iDAPT). The centerpiece of iDAPT is the Challenging Environment Assessment Lab (CEAL), a huge underground research lab with a 6 DOF hydraulic motion simulator where researchers can study interactions between people and their environment. 

Entering the WinterLab payload
Quanser partnered with TRI on CEAL development  - our QUARC real time control software is actually at the heart of this unique lab, controlling the motion simulator. I had read about CEAL previously, but seeing it in real life is really impressive. Several "payloads" or chambers simulating different environments and conditions can be put on the motion simulator to perform various research projects. 

2 DOF Gantry and safety harness
To protect the people actually performing tests, a safety harness is mounted on the roof. This is also a contribution of the Quanser team - our engineers designed an active robotic system that follows a person's movements around the chamber in a non-intrusive manner.

Inside the StreetLab
We had an opportunity to check some of the payloads, including the WinterLab that can simulate different conditions such as cold, wind, snow drifts and ice. It can simulate cold and icy sidewalks really well!

Another interesting payload we saw was the StreetLab, with a high res, 180-degree field-of-view curved visual projection screen combined with a treadmill interface and a wheelchair simulator.

We also visited other TRI research labs, and were amazed by the work they do. It was quite inspiring for all of us visitors from Quanser to see the real-life applications of our technology, skills and expertise. Definitely a recommended field trip for high school kids, and sorry, boys, I am volunteering for that one!

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