We took our inspiration from a rehabilitation process called Mirror Box Therapy, which focuses on reforming the neural association between particular efforts and muscle control. The system works by detecting finger movement in one hand, and using flex sensors and a tendon-drive to simulate muscle control in the other hand. It enables stroke survivors to extend their therapy into real-world applications, allowing them to manipulate their world with a hand they cannot yet control, as though they could. It then collects data on how it's being used, indicators as general as what time of day it is, how long it was used, or where it was used, but also very technical details like average movement speed, percent support given by the tendon drive in support of mirroring movements, and maximum deviations in position angle. On a per-user basis, this data helps to determine what's working best by tracking progress, and making recommendations on what a user could do to speed up recovery. On a grander scale, machine learning and other data-mining can be implemented to better the collective understanding of this entire class of therapy, while enabling increasingly effective recommendations with the aid of use profiles.
How it works
Using the resistance measured in 2.2" flex sensors, we were able to record data on how bent the sensors were, and then using servos were able to reproduce the same motions on the opposite hand. The data from the sensors is collected by the Arduino, which both processes the data for the opposite hand and stores it on an SD card to be read later.
Challenges we ran into
Whilst working on this project we encountered a number of challenges, most significantly in developing the tendon drive. Through various methods of testing and prototypes, we were able to develop a method for closing the fingers that not only works, but is comfortable and precise.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Through the past 24 hours our team has overcome many problems, including malfunctioning hardware, lack of resources, material specific problems, and software setbacks. However, our team overcame these challenges and sought creative solutions to better our Hack.
What I learned
Through designing and building our Hack, I came to the realization that when faced with a challenge so important and genuine as someone's health, finding a passion and drive to achieve the task is a task that comes with ease. The idea behind the project started with helping people and making their lives better, and not once did it sway in any other direction.