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Measuring Human Motion: Applications in Music Interfaces and Assistive Devices

Date and Time
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
CS Department Colloquium Series
Diana Young, from MIT Media Lab
Szymon Rusinkiewicz
Advances in sensing and computing capabilities of embedded systems allow accurate and precise measurement of human motion, enabling studies of diverse physical tasks and the development of sophisticated human-computer interfaces driven by gestural input.

Leveraging prior work in the development of interactive music controllers, a wireless measurement system comprised of inertial, force, and position sensors, is implemented on a violin and bow in order to capture the primary bowing parameters (bow force, bow speed, and bow-bridge distance) produced during realistic performances. A study of standard bowing techniques performed by expert violinists shows that with appropriate data reduction and pattern recognition techniques, gesture data from the above sensors may be used to recognize the same technique when performed by different players, as well as to begin to discriminate different players' performances of the same techniques.

Accurate interpretation of human motion is not only useful for understanding expressive musical performance, but it is crucial for other human-computer interfaces, such as assistive mobility devices, in which ensuring safety is a chief concern. New lower limb prostheses and orthoses designed to correct gait pathologies (caused by disease or injury) include active elements that must be controlled in realtime as a function of the user's motion. Using sensing systems similar to that described above, relevant gait parameters (such as orientation, velocity, and position) may be estimated for use as control inputs for these active devices, as well as for general use in the study of gait biomechanics.

Results and current progress will be presented, and implications for future applications in new music instrument development, music performance pedagogies, and interventions for rehabilitation and augmentation will be discussed.

Diana Young is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab, where she contributes to the development of measurement systems that capture human locomotion for use in active lower limb prostheses. Her research interests include measurement and understanding of human motion, both functional and expressive, and the development of human-computer interfaces for rehabilitation and the enhancement of skill acquisition. For her doctoral studies on the physical dynamics of violin bowing, she designed a playable calibrated measurement system to capture and record physical bowing parameters generated by players. She has also developed several related gesture sensing systems for use in live interactive music performance by professional musicians. Her work has been featured in numerous media, including The Strad magazine, Strings Magazine, The Boston Globe, New Scientist Podcast series, and Scientific American Frontiers. Young holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and B.A. in Music from The Johns Hopkins University, and a Performer's Certificate in Violin from the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

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