A Real-Time System for Body Visualization During Whole-Body Motion, 07-R9675

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Principal Investigators
Ken Huffman
Warren C. Couvillion
Ryan C. Logan

Inclusive Dates:  01/01/07 – Current

Background - Humans are generally poor at visualizing their bodies using their kinesthetic sense alone, especially when in action, making it difficult to learn or practice motor skills. Research has shown that visual cues can improve motor skill development, and a variety of techniques have been applied to whole-body visualization including the use of mirrors, video displays, motion capture and video capture/analysis. However, none of these techniques provides real-time feedback while the user performs a motion in a natural manner. In comparison, training methods that make use of post-performance assessment, such as video analysis, are problematic because man's short-term kinesthetic memory is very brief.

Approach - The objective of this project is to develop a prototype system that comprises a low-cost, see-through, head-mounted display (HMD), cost-effective web camera, laptop and specially designed software to allow users to view captured video of the body augmented with visual cues in real time as they perform natural motions. Software required to capture video and overlay visual cues has been developed using the SwRI-owned Graphics Interface Library (GraIL™) software developed on a previous internal research effort.

Accomplishments - A system composed of a laptop computer, web video camera and a lightweight HMD has been developed and utilized to allow users to visualize their bodies from an external perspective augmented with visual cues. The system processes video from a camera and provides an interface for presenting and augmenting the resulting HMD view. The system provides static visual indicators that overlay the video. Lines, circles, arcs, and a grid can be placed on the video window and adjusted for scale and position to provide cues regarding proper body posture and positioning. Using this approach, a proof-of-concept application has been developed allowing participants to work with three predefined shoulder exercise routines. The participant's arm position and average velocity during exercise repetitions are automatically collected and saved to a database. The final step in the project will be to use the system with physical rehabilitation patients and evaluate the results. The project team is currently seeking a rehabilitation facility where the system can be set up and data collected on shoulder surgery patients. One group of patients will use the system during exercises, while a control group will perform the same exercises without the visual cues provided by the system. The data from the participants will be analyzed and compared, and a final report on the feasibility and benefits of this approach will be prepared and released.

These images show the participant's view, at top, as seen through the HMD, and the operator's view, at bottom, including controls and participant display.

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