I made it to Atlanta! This is my first time on Georgia Tech's campus and it is absolutely beautiful. I have had a very smooth moving experience and look forward to what this experience has in store for me! On the first day, I met Dr. Howard and the three other undergraduate students who I will be collaborating with on the Infant Smart Mobile project. We were tasked with choosing which portion of the project that we would be working on.
The primary four tasks of the project included:
-Designing and building the smart mobile
-Using the Texas Instruments CC2650 sensors to assess readings and trigger robotic mobile
-Using the smaller, rounder MetaWear sensors to assess readings and trigger robotic mobile
-Designing and building a mobile application to simulate the robotic mobile
We each took the week to research the different options and see which would most fit our interest. After much reading and consideration, I decided to work on the Texas Instrument sensors that would be used to create an anklet to monitor and analyze the rate of a baby's kicking in response to the created mobile. I have never worked with sensors before so I look forward to learning this new skill. In addition to picking which part of the project that I wanted to do, I took this first week to complete the CITI research ethics training. I completed the RCR course which included a lot of valuable information on mentorship, peer-review, research misconduct, data managemnt, guidelines, the Institutional Review Board, etc. Though I had taken a similar course when conducting research at my home institution, this module also provided a lot of new information.
The goal for my portion of the project is to take in sensor data from the TI sensor, analyze the data, and trigger a signal to the mobile if the data falls within a determined threshold. I have taken this week to really get the know the Texas Instruments sensors. My weekly goal was to figure out how I could best use the sensors to retrieve and analyze the data that we need for our specific application. The values that I am mostly concerned with are the 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope values. This information can be used to determine when the sensor is moving in a specific direction, i.e. when the baby is kicking.
The sensors are built to work with a downloadable android or iOS application. I downloaded the application onto my cell phone so I could visualize the data that I would be working with. At this point, I was ready to create a list of tasks that would lead me to my final destination. For the sensors, I needed to familiarize myself with Android Studio, develop an application that would intake sensor readings over bluetooth technology, modify the application to work with the robotic mobile, and create an algorithm that would determine what threshold of values would determine that the child is providing a valuable and continuous kick that would warrent the mobile to spin.
On Friday, I traveled across town to attend the National Society of Blacks in Computing conference. I received a scholarship to attend the conference and I enjoyed many of the workshops that were designed for undergraduate students who were considering graduate school.
Attempting to create the application that would work directly with the sensors proved to be trickier than I initially thought it would be. The emulator for Android Studio was not bluetooth compatible and therefore I could not test the application I was using. At this point, I tried several other platforms that would also create a mobile application. I eventually came across Evothings studio which allows me to develop and test the application on whatever mobile OS. When I have come to a stable point, Evothings studio will allow me to export the application to Android studio to integrate with other portions of the project.
Position. Velocity. Acceleration. I have learned a lot about these terms this week. In an attempt to better understand the data that I am receiving from the sensor, I will have to gather information that will determine the position of the sensor on the child before continuing with the algorithm. Working with the graduate students and the other students in the lab has been very helpful. I have decided to first do a calibration step where the sensor will determine a still position on the child to better choose a valuable threshold.
In addition to lab work, I have been attending weekly presentations from different professors at Georgia Tech. These have been quite interesting. Dr. Howard was the presenter this week. She spoke about her research that focuses on robot-assisted therapy for children with motor disabilities and her company Zyrobotics. She talked about how engineering and computer science has important societal value. The longer that I am here and further dive into my project, I am beginning to see exactly what she was talking about.
The largest events of this week included the GRE Prep class that Dr. Howard allowed us to attend with the other GA Tech SURE students. I plan to take the GRE within the next few months so I was very grateful to take the class. The instructor gave many helpful strategies that could help us to maximize our scores. I also saw certain concepts that I had not seen in forever! The class was not only very helpful, but also showed me some concepts that I need to touch up on before I decide to take the test.
We also have began working with the NAO humanoid robot! I have participated in projects that used the NAO in the Assistive Robotics and Technology lab at my home institution. I was excited to learn that we would be testing our prototype on the familiar platform. In the next week, I plan to implement some random kicking values on the NAO so that we can further test the algorithm that we are progressively modifying.
I was finally able to connect to the NAO robot. I have since created a program that simulates different types of baby kicking. There are currently five different types of kicking that are performed by the robot: both leg high kicks, just left leg kicks, just right leg kicks, both leg small kicks, and both leg wide kicks. The program randomly selects one of the five kicking patterns and executes every few minutes for testing purposes. I also implemented some random blinking, head, and arm movements to further simulate an infant. My next course of action will be to test the thresholds on the NAO kicking to see how practical they are in use. Also, the mobile app is now able to send acceleration data in an email to a hard-coded email address. In the next week, I will work on making this more user-friendly so that a user can input the desired email that the data can be sent to.
I began further developing the NAO program. I have also began making videos of the NAO kicking simulation in relation to the infant videos. The other students working on the project and I met with a clinician to demo our prototype applications. She provided a plethora of valuable information and feedback about our applications. For my own project, she suggested the implementation of a Clinician/Parent mode where the clinician may want to have more control over specific settings and a parent may not. She also wanted to see a button that would turn on or off the mobile reinforcement. I will continue to develop my current prototype using the feedback from the clinician. I have also been further developing the video that will be used in my weekly updates. I have now included a list of all of the forms of kicking that I have implicated and side by side comparisons of infants with the NAO. I feel that my project is in a really good place. I have been thinking about the final paper and what all I need to complete in the next few weeks.
Away from lab stuff, the SURE robotics students and the DREU students are going whitewater rafting on Saturday. I have never been whitewater rafting before and I an very excited. We also toured CISCO and the startup building across the street in the last two weeks. These events were very cool and entertaining.
I have been in the process of further putting the finishing touches on my application. I have added some of the functionality that the Clinician requested and have a working prototype that is ready for testing. Now that the NAO program is also functional, I plan to run a test on the anklet using the NAO so that I will have the results to put in my paper. I will spend the majority of the next week writing the final report. I have also been working on a document so that others may further implement the infant kicking on the NAO.
Each week, we have sessions that further prepare us for graduate school. This week's session was Funding Graduate School. I found this workshop EXTREMELY helpful and informative. The professor giving the workshop was a fellowship adviser and provided very insightful tips on application procedures and documents. The sessions and industry visits were among some of the most exciting events of the summer thus far.
This week is where everything came down to the wire. Once the final prototype was developed, I began testing the prototype on the NAO robot. The kicking simulation program helped a lot in gathering results for my final report. I have also began working on that too. Dr. Howard has also requested that we present a final presentation on next Tuesday. Preparing for the final presentation, writing the final report, and finalizing the results from the test have been my primary focuses this week.
One of the members of my team had her final presentation and poster talk for the SURE program this past Wednesday. She did great! Her presentation helped me to see the direction that I needed to go and how I could independently present my portion of the project. As the summer is coming to a close, I look forward to see the results of the research experience.
Also, we visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights and attended a rooftop reception for interns in the Atlanta area. It was nice meeting other students from across the country who were spending their summer in Atlanta. Sponsored by ChooseATL, this was a great outing for us as we began to wrap the summer up.
This is it. The end has finally come and I could not be more honored to have worked with Dr. Howard and this wonderful team all summer. I have gained sooo much from this experience. I have never liked working in groups but this summer provided me with a great network of like-minded people who were just as driven as I was. Now that I have finished my presentation, final report, and poster, I can look back and see how all of the hard work this summer has manifested itself. I have a broader perception of the research process and what to expect in graduate school.
All in all, I am so grateful to the DREU program for the opportunity, Dr. Howard for allowing me to become a member of her lab for the past ten weeks, Sergio Garcia for always being there to answer questions and give advice, and my wonderful research team who have made the results of our summer work a success. I cannot wait to see the greatness that comes as a result of this summer's work.