Year/Course: 2006-2007, Lent 2007

Contacts: Dr. Adar Pelah, Cambridge University Engineering Department
Mentor: Caren Weinberg

More information:

Dr Pelah and Dr Lasenby have developed a virtual reality imaging system which is designed to measure precisely the movements of a person within the field of view, and map these in real time onto a virtual reality landscape as they walk. The system can be used with wireless sensors attached to the person, giving maximum accuracy for measurements, or with video cameras.

The system has been designed from a medical perspective, in particular looking at the rehabilitation of stroke victims who sometimes find simple tasks such as walking along a straight line very difficult. The screen can display a variety of images, with the patient’s current position shown in real time, enabling the same setup to be used for a number of exercises. For example, to practice walking along a straight line, a straight line is shown in the virtual environment on the screen with perspective effects, and the person is also displayed showing their location in relation to it as they walk on a physical treadmill. Movements can also be recorded for later analysis by physicians, and for review of a patient’s progress over time.

Dr. Pelah originally designed the locomotion virtual reality system in the Physiological Laboratory and has recently combined his work with the motion capture system developed by Dr. Joan Lasenby in the Engineering Department.

A number of student teams will be involved with this research project in the Lent term, including students from Engineering and Medicine. Although each team will have a specific area of focus, it is expected that they will also have the opportunity to interact with each other.

The role of the i-Team will be to identify and investigate a range of possible applications and uses of the system. The team will need to take into account realistic cost constraints of the different market applications and, although low-end applications may be foreseen, the full system may always be expensive as a result of its requirement for high accuracy. The conclusions are expected to assist the researchers as they develop new versions of the system and progress towards it being used outside of the lab.