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RISE:2013 highlights: Kinect rehab, Lego lobsters, 3D printed tech and more

Brian Heater
03.22.13
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We were excited and honored when the administration at Northeastern University asked us to help judge its RISE:2013 Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo. The event, held at the physical education center on the school's Boston campus, brings together an incredibly diverse array of research projects covering a impressive number of fields, including physical and life sciences, engineering, humanities, arts & design, computer and information sciences, health sciences, law, business and social sciences.

As you might imagine, scoring works across such a diverse array of concentrations is no easy task. We did, however, manage to pull out a handful of projects that will no doubt be of particular interest to our own readership. The list includes the use of a Kinect camera and PC for physical rehabilitation, the 3D printing of embedded electrical technologies, a Lego set that helps bridge the gap between crustacean and robot and a device that employs an Arduino board and video games to help stroke victims recover motor skills. Check out a video of all of the above just after the break.

Physical rehabilitation was the focus of many of the in-house projects, each taking a decidedly different approach to getting patients back on their feet. Two projects in particular lept out at us. First up was the Virtual Rehabilitation System, presented by Meghan Huber, a student we had spoken with during our last visit to the school. The project utilizes Mathworks' MATLAB software and a Microsoft Kinect camera to capture real-time data for rehabilitation analysis. Unlike standard systems, this setup is affordable enough for home usage -- it also collects data on a wider range of motion, making it adaptable for different needs.

RISE2013 hightlights Kinect rehab, Lego lobsters, 3D printed embedded tech and more

The Navigator, meanwhile, is an Arduino-based desktop system that monitors hand movements with a pivoting, squeezable handle. The system will be tied to customized games to reward the patient and help stave off boredom. Another project utilized an off-the-shelf Lego system built to resemble a lobster. Comparing its habits to its real world analog, researchers can learn something about the behavior of the animal and can further the robot to mimic real-world biology. 3-Spark's project, meanwhile, is looking to 3D print embedded electronics, using technology similar to consumer-facing extrusion units to print circuitry directly into ABS plastic molds. The result is a single unit with conductive electrical properties.

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