An Evaluation of the Suitability of Commercially Available Sensors for Use in a Virtual Reality Prosthetic Arm Motion Tracking Device
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The loss of a hand or arm is a devastating life event that results in many months of healing and challenging rehabilitation. Technology has allowed the development of an electronic replacement for a lost limb but similar advancements in therapy have not occurred. The situation is made more challenging because people with amputations often do not live near specialized rehabilitation centres. As a result, delays in therapy can worsen common complications like nerve pain and joint stiffness. For children born without a limb, poor compliance with the use of their prosthesis leads to delays in therapy and may affect their development. In many parts of the world, amputation rehabilitation does not exist. Fortunately, we live in an age where advances in technology and engineering can help solve these problems. Virtual reality creates a simulated world or environment through computer animation much like what is seen in modern video games. An experienced team of rehabilitation doctors, therapists, engineers and computer scientists are required to realize a system such as this. A person with an amputation will be taught to control objects in the virtual world by wearing a modified electronic prosthesis. Using computers, it will be possible to analyze his or her movements within the virtual world and improve the wearer's skills. The goals of this system include making the system portable and internet compatible so that people living in remote areas can also receive therapy. The novel approach of using virtual reality to rehabilitate people with upper limb amputations will help them return to normal activities by providing modern and appropriate rehabilitation, reducing medical complications, improving motivation (via gaming modules), advancing health care technology and reducing health care costs. The use of virtual reality technology in the field of amputee rehabilitation is in its earliest stages of development world wide. A virtual environment (VE) will facilitate the early rehabilitation of a patient before they are clinically ready to be fitted with an actual prosthesis. In order to create a successful virtual reality rehabilitation system such as this, an accurate method of tracking the arm in real-time is necessary. A linear displacement sensor and a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) inertial measurement unit (IMU) were used to create a device for capturing the motion of a user's movement with the intent that the data provided by the device be used along with a VE as a virtual rehabilitation tool for new upper extremity amputation patients. This thesis focuses on the design and testing of this motion capture device in order to determine the suitability of current commercially available sensing components as used in this system. Success will be defined by the delivery of accurate position and orientation data from the device so that that data can be used in a virtual environment. Test results show that with current MEMS sensors, the error introduced by double integrating acceleration data is too significant to make an IMU an acceptable choice for position tracking. However, the device designed here has proven to be an excellent cable emulator, and would be well suited if used as an orientation tracker.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentElectrical and Computer Engineering
SupervisorDinh, Anh; Linassi, Gary
CommitteeVassileva, Julita; Bui, Francis; Ko, Seokbum
Copyright DateDecember 2012