Spending hours on a computer or sending lots of text messages on a mobile phone can result in a stiff neck and sometimes even a strained thumb. Computer scientists in Saarbrücken have developed a procedure that simulates in a lifelike manner which muscles and joints are put under particular strain when using IT devices. It also demonstrates the speed and accuracy with which a user can operate a device. The method developed by the researchers uses cameras to capture the motion of a test subject and then projects these movements onto a model of the human body. The technique is of potential interest to product designers and occupational physicians. The researchers will be showcasing their project from March 16th to March 20th at the Cebit computer expo in Hanover (Stand E13, Hall 9).
Tense shoulders, neck strain or a painful wrist are not uncommon among those who spend long periods of time working at a computer. Indeed, this sort of problem can also arise when using the newer types of IT devices that have appeared on the market over the last few years.
To carry out the simulation, the researchers use software to map these movements onto a model of the human body.
Credit: Oliver Dietze
For example, the use of gestures to control games consoles can cause particularly high levels of stress to shoulders or knees. Touch screens that require users to hold their arm in an extended position for long periods of time can also be problematic – experts refer to this specific type of muscle fatigue as ‘gorilla arm’.
To help designers and developers of new IT devices take into account those movements that create unnecessary bodily strain, graduate researcher Myroslav Bachynskyi and his colleagues have developed a tool that enables realistic simulation of user movements. ‘Our approach combines three-dimensional motion capture with biomechanical simulation,’ explains Bachynskyi, a PhD student at the Saarbrücken Cluster of Excellence and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics.
In optical motion capture a test subject wearing a special suit equipped with small optical markers performs a particular sequence of movements, such as waving his or her arms in order to control a computer game. The markers on the suit emit light that is recorded by special cameras. ‘To carry out the simulation, we use software to map these movements onto a model of the human body,’ says Bachynskyi.
To shed light on the actual biomechanical loads acting on specific body parts, the simulation program calculates a number of key parameters: the joint angles, the forces acting on the joints at any time during the movement, as well as muscle activation and fatigue. ‘The model allows us to see precisely which part of the body is subjected to the greatest loading when a particular movement is performed, and so we can determine whether, say, the upper arm muscles or the elbow are under particular strain,’ explains Bachynskyi.
‘Our method also shows us how efficiently, that is, how quickly and accurately a user operates a particular piece of IT equipment.’ The method offers a possibility to find an optimal combination of user performance and physical ergonomics.
One of the cases studied by the researchers was how users interacted with a wall-mounted vertical touch screen. They found that movements from left to right and from top to bottom put less stress on the muscles than forward and backward movements. They conclude that a virtual keyboard is therefore best positioned in the lower central part of the screen.
Designers can exploit this new analysis method to improve user interaction with their products. The methodology is also of interest in occupational medicine and in industry, where it can be used to improve the design of workplaces in large computer-assisted production facilities.
Computer science and informatics at Saarland University
The Department of Computer Science forms the core of the informatics landscape at Saarland University. A further seven internationally renowned research institutes are located in the immediate vicinity on campus. As well as the two Max Planck Institutes for Informatics and for Software Systems, the Saarbrücken campus is also home to the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, the Intel Visual Computing Institute, the Center for IT Security, Privacy and Accountability (CISPA) and the Cluster of Excellence ‘Multimodal Computing and Interaction’.
Myroslav Bachynskyi is a doctoral research student at Saarland University and a member of the Saarbrücken Graduate School of Computer Science.
For more information about the research work, please go to: http://resources.mpi-inf.mpg.de/biomechanics/
Questions can be addressed to:
Cluster of Excellence ‘Multimodal Computing and Interaction’
Tel.: +49 (0)681 302-71929
Melanie Löw | Universität des Saarlandes
Medica 2018: Mobile motion feedback to help patients reduce relieving postures when walking
07.11.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Medica 2018: Control with your feet - computer game to help prevent thrombosis
05.11.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences