Robotic cane could improve walking stability

source and credits: TheRobotReport

By adding electronics and computation technology to a simple cane that has been around since ancient times, a team of researchers at Columbia Engineering have transformed it into a 21st century robotic device that can provide light-touch assistance in walking to the aged and others with impaired mobility. A team led by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, has demonstrated, for the first time, the benefit of using an autonomous robot that “walks” alongside a person to provide light-touch support, much as one might lightly touch a companion’s arm or sleeve to maintain balance while walking. Their study has been published in the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

Often, elderly people benefit from light hand-holding for support,” explained Agrawal, who is also a member of Columbia University’s Data Science Institute. “We have developed a robotic cane attached to a mobile robot that automatically tracks a walking person and moves alongside,” he continued. “The subjects walk on a mat instrumented with sensors while the mat records step length and walking rhythm, essentially the space and time parameters of walking, so that we can analyze a person’s gait and the effects of light touch on it.

The light-touch robotic cane, called CANINE, acts as a cane-like mobile assistant. The device improves the individual’s proprioception, or self-awareness in space, during walking, which in turn improves stability and balance. “This is a novel approach to providing assistance and feedback for individuals as they navigate their environment,” said Joel Stein, Simon Baruch Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and chair of the department of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, who co-authored the study with Agrawal. “This strategy has potential applications for a variety of conditions, especially individuals with gait disorders.

To test this new device, the team fitted 12 healthy young people with virtual reality glasses that created a visual environment that shakes around the user – both side-to-side and forward-backward – to unbalance their walking gait. The subjects each walked 10 laps on the instrumented mat, both with and without the robotic cane, in conditions that tested walking with these visual perturbations. In all virtual environments, having the light-touch support of the robotic cane caused all subjects to narrow their strides. The narrower strides, which represent a decrease in the base of support and a smaller oscillation of the center of mass, indicate an increase in gait stability due to the light-touch contact.

The next phase in our research will be to test this device on elderly individuals and those with balance and gait deficits to study how the robotic cane can improve their gait,” said Agrawal, who directs the Robotics and Rehabilitation (ROAR) Laboratory. “In addition, we will conduct new experiments with healthy individuals, where we will perturb their head-neck motion in addition to their vision to simulate vestibular deficits in people.

While mobility impairments affect 4% of people aged 18 to 49, this number rises to 35% of those aged 75 to 80 years, diminishing self-sufficiency, independence, and quality of life. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be only five young people for every old person, as compared with seven or eight today. “We will need other avenues of support for an aging population,” Agrawal noted. “This is one technology that has the potential to fill the gap in care fairly inexpensively.



9th Summer School on Surgical Robotics


The registration for the 9th Summer School on Surgical Robotics (SSSR-2019) is now open (registration deadline: July 26th, 2019).

The School will be held in Montpellier, France, from 23th to 28th September 2019, and is open to Master students, PhD students, Post-docs and participants from industry.

All information can be found on the official website:

sssr-2019 Working on translationnal activities in surgical robotic inside LIRMM office located in the new medical school of Montpellier, France.

Robotics enables surgery to be less invasive and/or to enhance the performance of the surgeon. In minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for instance, robotics can improve the dexterity of conventional instruments, which is restricted by the insertion ports, by adding intra-cavity degrees of freedom. It can also provide the surgeon with augmented visual and haptic inputs. In open surgery, robotics makes it possible to use in real time pre-operative and per-operative image data to improve precision and reproducibility when cutting, drilling, milling bones, to locate accurately and remove tumours. In both cases, as in other surgical specialities, robotics allows the surgeon to perform more precise, reproducible and dextrous motion. It is also a promising solution to minimize fatigue and to restrict exposition to radiation. For the patient, robotics surgery may result in lower risk, pain and discomfort, as well as a shorter recovery time. These benefits explain the increasing research efforts made all over the world since the early 90’s.

Surgical robotics requires great skills in many engineering fields as the integration of robots in the operating room is technically difficult. It induces new problems such as safety, man-machine cooperation, real time sensing and processing, mechanical design, force and vision-based control. However, it is very promising as a mean to improve conventional surgical procedures, for example in neurosurgery and orthopaedics, as well as to provide innovation in micro-surgery, image-guided therapy, MIS and Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES).

sssr-2019 LIRMM at Montpellier faculty of medecine 2, France

The highly interdisciplinary nature of surgical robotics requires close cooperation between medical staff and researchers in mechanics, computer sciences, control and electrical engineering. This cooperation has resulted in many prototypes for a wide variety of surgical procedures. A few robotics systems are yet available on a commercial basis and have entered the operating room namely in neurosurgery, orthopaedics and MIS.

Depending on the application, surgical robotics gets more or less deeply into the following fields:

  • multi-modal information processing;
  • modelling of rigid and deformable anatomical parts;
  • pre-surgical planning and simulation of robotic surgery;
  • design and control of guiding systems for assistance of the surgeon gesture.

During the Summer school, these fields will be addressed by surgeons and researchers working in leading hospitals and labs. They will be completed by engineers who will give insight into practical integration problems. The courses are addressed to PhD students, post-docs and researchers already involved in the area or interested by the new challenges of such an emerging area interconnecting technology and surgery. Basic background in mechanical, computer science, control and electrical engineering is recommended.

Cariche inerti per resine

fonti: uno e due

Sono considerate cariche tutti i materiali inerti, generalmente polveri di varia origine (minerale, vegetale, metallica) e granulometria, che possono essere aggiunti alle resine per modificarne le caratteristiche come il peso, la resistenza meccanica, la lavorabilità, la densità, l’aspetto, la tixotropia e la consistenza in genere, senza però modificarne la reazione chimica.
L’aggiunta di cariche inerti nella resina comporta l’aumento del volume del composto (resina + carica), riducendo al contempo la percentuale di resina nella massa. Questo genera diversi vantaggi, come l’abbassamento del picco esotermico (massima temperatura raggiungibile durante il processo di polimerizzazione delle resine), l’aumento della stabilità dimensionale e il contenimento del costo totale.
Ogni tipo di carica ha in genere un diverso comportamento nei riguardi della resina in cui è stata additivata, e ciò determina le caratteristiche finali del composto. Le particelle delle diverse cariche infatti hanno strutture diverse tra di loro: possono essere sferiche, lamellari, poliedriche o amorfe, e ciò influisce sul rapporto tra incremento di volume e viscosità del composto. Di seguito alcuni esempi di cariche comunemente impiegate.

Polveri e graniglie minerali:

  • Expanglass (granuli di vetro soffiato):inerte leggero ed altamentemicrosfere-vetro-cave-s resistente a compressione. Non assorbe resina ed ha alte resistenze chimiche. Compatibile con tutti i tipi di resina.
  • Sabbie di quarzo: pure e selezionate da utilizzare con resine epossidiche, nella preparazione di malte ad alta resistenza per riparazioni di pavimenti industriali, sigillatura lesioni, rifacimento parti mancanti; edilizia, restauro.

Graniglie metalliche:

    • Graniglia di alluminio: carica per la costruzione di stampi in resina epossidica; agevola la dissipazione del calore.
    • Graniglie selezionate di rame, bronzo, ottone e zinco:conglomerati ad alto graniglie_metallichecontenuto di metallo, con legante poliestere per settoreartistico e oggettistica.
    • Grafite: in polvere finissima costituita da carbonio puro, utilizzata per disegnare su carta creazioni prospettiche,sfumature e per dare rilievo a luci e ombre. Se dispersa in un legante permette di ottenere colorigrafite-polvere-small per pittura. Utilizzata anche come carica inerte per resine da colata e resine da laminazione.

Graniglie vegetali:

  • Gusci di noce: macinati, vengono utilizzati nel settore restauro per sabbiature delicate su dipinti e opere in legno, o in impasti con resine per ottenere conglomerati (esempio: pasta legno lavorabile per restauro di opere lignee).
  • Polvere di legno: ottenuta dalla macinazione di fibre vegetali, è ideale per essere polvere-legno-smallutilizzata come carica inerte di riempimento per resine e colle nella produzione di composti da colata, stucchi e paste che una volta induriti, assumendo le caratteristiche tipiche del legno come il peso, la lavorabilità e l’aspetto, possano essere utilizzati per interventi riempitivi e di ricostruzione di supporti e manufatti in legno.
  • Polpa di cellulosa: è costituita da microfibre di pura cellulosa insolubili nella maggior parte dei solventi, ed è utilizzata come carica inerte per resine e nella preparazione di pappette o impacchi di pulitura per superfici lapidee ed affreschi, alle quali conferisce proprietà supportanti e assorbenti.polpa-cellulosa-small

Arriva Hunova, un robot per la riabilitazione


section-3Le nuove tecnologie e l’industria 4.0 estendono le loro applicazioni nel settore sanitario con un robot per la riabilitazione di pazienti con disabilità in ambito neurologico e spinale. Il robot si chiama hunova, è nato con brevetti dell’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) ed è prodotto e commercializzato in tutto il mondo da Movendo Technology, la prima medical company made in Italy attiva nella robotica riabilitativa (50% Dompé, 43% i fondatori e inventori Simone Ungaro, Carlo Sanfilippo, Jody Saglia, 7% IIT).

hunova integra meccatronica, elettronica, sensoristica, e software: 4 motori, 2 sensori di forza/coppia, un sensore inerziale, più di 100 metri di cavi, un cervello elettronico, 1 interfaccia e 4 schede elettroniche di controllo. La sua intelligenza artificiale o centro di controllo combina big data, algoritmi avanzati di interazione uomo-macchina e rete di sensori, mantenendo un’estrema semplicità di utilizzo da parte dell’operatore come del paziente. I fattori che caratterizzano hunova sono la rilevazione e misurazione oggettiva dei parametri biomeccanici del paziente e l’elevato livello di assistenza e intervento robotico che facilita e guida chi è sottoposto alla riabilitazione, stimolandolo con protocolli somministrati in forma di gioco (videogame interattivi). Gli ambiti di applicazione terapeutica in campo neurologico riguardano gli esiti di ictus ischemico con o senza emiplegia, malattie neurodegenerative, morbo di Parkinson, Sclerosi Multipla, ma anche il campo ortopedico, quello geriatrico e della medicina dello sport.

Al momento sono operativi 28 robot di cui 2 negli Stati Uniti, 1 in Germania e Grecia. Il centro spinale dell’ospedale Niguarda di Milano diretto da Michele Spinelli e il Centro di Recupero e Riabilitazione Funzionale Villa Beretta (Lecco) diretta da Franco Molteni (Ospedale Valduce di Como) stanno implementando l’uso del robot.


Leachy ou Reachy ?

Dans le cadre d’un projet de recherche, Pollen Robotics et l’INCIA ont créé en 2017 Reachy, un bras robotique bio-inspiré reprenant la taille et les mobilité d’un bras adulte à 7 degrés de liberté. Reachy est destiné à être une plateforme de recherche et d’expérimentation permettant, par exemple, d’explorer de nouvelles interactions ou encore les problématiques liées à la commande dans des espaces de grandes dimensions. Open source, imprimé en 3D et modulaire, il est conçu pour pouvoir facilement s’adapter à différent setups expérimentaux !

reachyandleachyAujourd’hui Reachy est disponible dans une nouvelle version qui inclue:

  • une mécanique totalement revue permettant la réalisation de mouvements lisses et précis,
  • la cinématique inverse et directe,
  • la possibilité d’ajouter une main faite par OpenBionics,
  • une version bras gauche appelée Leachy

À ne pas rater le site web officiel de Pollen Robotics 🙂


2017 top 5 medical device companies

all rights belong to Monique Ellis (

Medtronic – 2016 revenue: $29bn – The leading medical device company in the world, Medtronic, enjoyed a staggering 42% growth in revenue compared with 2015 figures ($20.3 billion). The medical device giant operates in over 140 countries and employs more than 100,000 people that work across its principal units: cardiovascular, diabetes, spinal and biologics, neuromodulation, surgery and cardiac rhythm disease. Much of 2016 growth can be attributed to the completion of a very successful acquisition of medtech company Covidien.

Johnson & Johnson – 2016 revenue: $25.1bn – The second biggest medical device company on the list is American biopharmaceutical, consumer goods and medical device giant Johnson & Johnson, which has been a well-known household name across the globe for several decades. Their ranking on this list is based on the revenue from the company’s medical device subsidiaries that include Ethicon, Acclarent and DePuy Synthes. The group develop and manufacture products in various therapy areas: orthopaedic, cardiovascular, diabetes, vision care and surgery. The company saw a 2.6% increase in revenue in 2016 and intends to drive further growth in 2017 through greater innovation, portfolio management and by expanding into emerging markets.

GE Healthcare – 2016 revenue: $18.2bn – In the top three medical device companies in the world, General Electric is another multinational conglomerate that has a thriving healthcare segment, commonly known as GE Healthcare. The company produces medical devices like x-rays, ultrasound machines, incubators and CT image machines. It also develops devices that aid research and drug innovation and biopharmaceutical manufacturing. In 2016, the company experienced healthy 17.3% margin and in 2017, it aims to grow by expanding further into emerging markets and China. Recently, GE Healthcare has committed $300million under their initiative, Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, which aims to bring ‘disruptive technologies’ to these emerging markets where healthcare is less accessible.

Fresenius (Medical Care) – 2016 revenue: $18bn – German medical devices company Fresenius Medical Care specialises predominately in developing medical supplies to treat patients with renal (kidney) diseases, particularly to aid dialysis. The company attributes strong growth of 7% in 2016 to an increase in sales of dialysers and machines as well as positive price and volume effects. It also grew its workforce from 104,033 in 2015 to 109,319 in 2016, a 5% increase. Fresenius Medical Care  intends to boost annual revenues to $28 billion by 2020.

Philips (Healthcare) – 2016 revenue: $16bn – 5th on a list of top medical device companies, Philips is a global conglomerate company that is the largest manufacturer of lighting in the world. Their healthcare segment is also hugely successful, developing medical devices in a number of therapy areas including anaesthesia, oncology and cardiology. The company experienced a 3% growth in sales in 2016 in part thanks to a serious of successful growth initiatives, including the acquisition of PathXL in June 2016 and the integration of Volcano back in 2015.

have a look at ProClinical Life Sciences Recruitment Blog to see the full top 10 list!

3-D scanning with water

source: this website

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique for 3D shape reconstruction. This new approach to 3D shape acquisition is based on the well-known fluid displacement discovery by Archimedes and turns modeling surface reconstruction into a volumetric problem. Most notably, their method accurately reconstructs even hidden parts of an object that typical 3D laser scanners are not able to capture.

3D scannerTraditional 3D shape acquisition or reconstruction methods are based on optical devices, most commonly, laser scanners and cameras that successfully sample the visible shape surface. But this common approach tends to be noisy and incomplete. Most devices can only scan what is visible to them but hidden parts of an object remain inaccessible to the scanner’s line of sight. For instance, a typical laser scanner cannot accurately capture the belly or underside of an elephant statue, which is hidden from its line of sight.

The team’s dip transform to reconstruct complex 3D shapes utilizes liquid, computing the volume of a 3D object versus its surface. By following this method, a more complete acquisition of an object, including hidden details, can be reconstructed in 3D. Liquid has no line of sight; it can penetrate cavities and hidden parts, and it treats transparent and glossy materials identically to opaque materials, thus bypassing the visibility and optical limitations of optical and laser-based scanning devices.

water 3D scanningThe research, “Dip Transform for 3D Shape Reconstruction“, is authored by a team from Tel-Aviv University, Shandong University, Ben-Gurion University and University of British Columbia. They implemented a low-cost 3D dipping apparatus: objects in the water tank were dipped via a robotic arm. By dipping an object in the liquid along an axis, they were able to measure the displacement of the liquid volume and form that into a series of thin volume slices of the shape. By repeatedly dipping the object in the water at various angles, the researchers were able to capture the geometry of the given object, including the parts that would have normally been hidden by a laser or optical 3D scanner.

The team’s dip transform technique is related to computed tomography, an imaging method that uses optical systems for accurate scanning or to produce detailed pictures. However, the challenge with this more traditional method is that tomography-based devices are bulky and expensive and can only be used in a safe, customized environment. The team’s approach is both safe and inexpensive, and a much more appealing alternative for generating a complete shape at a low-computational cost using an innovative data collection method.

In the study, they demonstrated the new technique on 3D shapes with a range of complexity, including a hand balled up into a fist, a mother-child hugging and a DNA double helix. Their results show that the dip reconstructions are nearly as accurate as the original 3D model, paving the way to a new world of non-optical 3D shape acquisition techniques.