Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Control Theory Seminar


Monday, April 29th, 2019

Time: 10:30 a.m Place: Jeffery 110

Speaker: Prof. Jon Sensinger (UNB)

Title: Bottlenecks in rehabilitation human-machine interfaces: from mechanisms to control to human-machine interaction

Abstract: Humans can do amazing things compared with many robots. When humans interact with machines, it often leads to high expectations. These expectations are particularly high of human machine interfaces that try to assist (such as exoskeletons and prostheses) or rehabilitate (e.g., for stroke). Humans are complex, and the tasks they often wish to do require unique mechanisms and insightful control strategies. My personal bias is that solutions to these problems are often best solved using a control-theoretic framework.

This talk will highlight some of the mechanical and control bottlenecks that have limited the field, along with our contributions to help solve those problems. It will then turn to the field of computational motor control - a promising field that has used optimal stochastic feedback control theory to offer a compelling explanation for why humans move the way they do. The talk will briefly discuss the idea and some of the recent contributions by our group and others. From an engineering perspective, I will propose a holistic approach of including the person’s own capabilities, control strategies, and even level of interest, in the closed-loop design process. I will survey initial success of applying this approach to augmented sensory feedback, and lay out a vision for applying it to feedforward control as well. The talk will end by diving deeper into our most recent work developing a simple model of human adaptation. We've developed an inductive outcome measure that probes can infer from trial-by-trial data how confident people are in their feed-forward control. Challenges, limitations, and next steps will be discussed.

Dr. Jon Sensinger is the acting director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) at the University of New Brunswick and an associate professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Trained as a biomedical engineer and a clinical prosthetist, he directed the prosthesis design and control lab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University prior to coming to UNB. He has licenced several patents and is a cofounder of Coapt LLC, the first company to commercialize pattern recognition in the field of prostheses. He has a strong interest in seeing clinical problems through the lens of math - fusing theoretical paradigm shifts that result in meaningful clinical applications. As the acting director of IBME he directs a broad team comprising clinicians, scientists, engineers, professors, and graduate students who all share a passion to improve the lives of persons with disability. IBME has a 50+ year legacy of innovation in the field of prostheses and rehabilitation engineering, and Dr. Sensinger strives to maintain that focus as the field pushes the boundaries of rehabilitation engineering.