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Institute Talks

"Exploring” Haptics: Human-Machine Interactive Applications from Mid-Air Laser Haptics to Sensorimotor Skill Learning

  • 25 February 2019 • 10:30 11:15
  • Hojin Lee
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Haptic technologies in both kinesthetic and tactile aspects benefit a brand-new opportunity to recent human-machine interactive applications. In this talk, I, who believe in that one of the essential role of a researcher is pioneering new insights and knowledge, will present my previous research topics about haptic technologies and human-machine interactive applications in two branches: laser-based mid-air haptics and sensorimotor skill learning. For the former branch, I will introduce our approach named indirect laser radiation and its application. Indirect laser radiation utilizes a laser and a light-absorbing elastic medium to evoke a tapping-like tactile sensation. For the latter, I will introduce our data-driven approach for both modeling and learning of sensorimotor skills (especially, driving) with kinesthetic assistance and artificial neural networks; I call it human-like haptic assistance. To unify two different branches of my earlier studies for exploring the feasibility of the sensory channel named "touch", I will present a general research paradigm for human-machine interactive applications to which current haptic technologies can aim in future.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

Virtual Reality Based Needle Insertion Simulation With Haptic Feedback: A Psychophysical Study

  • 25 February 2019 • 11:15 12:00
  • Ravali Gourishetti
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Needle insertion is the most essential skill in medical care; training has to be imparted not only for physicians but also for nurses and paramedics. In most needle insertion procedures, haptic feedback from the needle is the main stimulus that novices are to be trained in. For better patient safety, the classical methods of training the haptic skills have to be replaced with simulators based on new robotic and graphics technologies. The main objective of this work is to develop analytical models of needle insertion (a special case of epidural anesthesia) including the biomechanical and psychophysical concepts that simulate the needle-tissue interaction forces in linear heterogeneous tissues and to validate the model with a series of experiments. The biomechanical and perception models were validated with experiments in two stages: with and without the human intervention. The second stage is the validation using the Turing test with two different experiments: 1) to observe the perceptual difference between the simulated and the physical phantom model, and 2) to verify the effectiveness of perceptual filter between the unfiltered and filtered model response. The results showed that the model could replicate the physical phantom tissues with good accuracy. This can be further extended to a non-linear heterogeneous model. The proposed needle/tissue interaction force models can be used more often in improving realism, performance and enabling future applications in needle simulators in heterogeneous tissue. Needle insertion training simulator was developed with the simulated models using Omni Phantom and clinical trials are conducted for the face validity and construct validity. The face validity results showed that the degree of realism of virtual environments and instruments had the overall lowest mean score and ease of usage and training in hand – eye coordination had the highest mean score. The construct validity results showed that the simulator was able to successfully differentiate force and psychomotor signatures of anesthesiologists with experiences less than 5 years and more than 5 years. For the performance index of the trainees, a novel measure, Just Controllable Difference (JCD) was proposed and a preliminary study on JCD measure is explored using two experiments for the novice. A preliminary study on the use of clinical training simulations, especially needle insertion procedure in virtual environments is emphasized on two objectives: Firstly, measures of force JND with the three fingers and secondly, comparison of these measures in Non-Immersive Virtual Reality (NIVR) to that of the Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) using psychophysical study with the Force Matching task, Constant Stimuli method, and Isometric Force Probing stimuli. The results showed a better force JND in the IVR compared to that of the NIVR. Also, a simple state observer model was proposed to explain the improvement of force JND in the IVR. This study would quantitatively reinforce the use of the IVR for the design of various medical simulators.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

Design of functional polymers for biomedical applications

  • 27 February 2019 • 14:00 15:00
  • Dr. Salvador Borrós Gómez
  • Stuttgart 2P4

Functional polymers can be easily tailored for their interaction with living organismes. In our Group, we have worked during the last 15 years in the development of this kind of polymeric materials with different funcionalities, high biocompatibility and in different forms. In this talk, we will describe the synthesis of thermosensitive thin films that can be used to prevent biofilm formation in medical devices, the preparation of biodegradable polymers specially designed for vectors for gene transfection and a new familliy of zwitterionic polymers that are able to cross intestine mucouse for oral delivery applications. The relationship between structure-functionality- applications will be discussed for every example.

Organizers: Metin Sitti

A new path to understanding biological/human vision: theory and experiments

IS Colloquium
  • 11 March 2019 • 14:00 15:00
  • Zhaoping Li
  • MPI-IS lecture hall (N0.002)

Since Hubel and Wiesel's seminal findings in the primary visual cortex (V1) more than 50 years ago, progress in vision science has been very limited along previous frameworks and schools of thoughts on understanding vision. Have we been asking the right questions? I will show observations motivating the new path. First, a drastic information bottleneck forces the brain to process only a tiny fraction of the massive visual input information; this selection is called the attentional selection, how to select this tiny fraction is critical. Second, a large body of evidence has been accumulating to suggest that the primary visual cortex (V1) is where this selection starts, suggesting that the visual cortical areas along the visual pathway beyond V1 must be investigated in light of this selection in V1. Placing attentional selection as the center stage, a new path to understanding vision is proposed (articulated in my book "Understanding vision: theory, models, and data", Oxford University Press 2014). I will show a first example of using this new path, which aims to ask new questions and make fresh progresses. I will relate our insights to artificial vision systems to discuss issues like top-down feedbacks in hierachical processing, analysis-by-synthesis, and image understanding.

Organizers: Timo Bolkart Aamir Ahmad

  • Dr. Greg Byrnes
  • Room 3P02 - Stuttgart

Gliding evolved at least nine times in mammals. Despite the abundance and diversity of gliding mammals, little is known about their convergent morphology and mechanisms of aerodynamic control. Many gliding animals are capable of impressive and agile aerial behaviors and their flight performance depends on the aerodynamic forces resulting from airflow interacting with a flexible, membranous wing (patagium). Although the mechanisms that gliders use to control dynamic flight are poorly understood, the shape of the gliding membrane (e.g., angle of attack, camber) is likely a primary factor governing the control of the interaction between aerodynamic forces and the animal’s body. Data from field studies of gliding behavior, lab experiments examining membrane shape changes during glides and morphological and materials testing data of gliding membranes will be presented that can aid our understanding of the mechanisms gliding mammals use to control their membranous wings and potentially provide insights into the design of man-made flexible wings.

Organizers: Metin Sitti Ardian Jusufi

Lessons from the visual system to understand (and help) the brain

IS Colloquium
  • 08 June 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Prof. Javier Cudeiro
  • MPI-IS lecture hall (N0.002)

Visual perception involves a complex interaction between feedforward and feedback processes. A mechanistic understanding of these processing, and its limitations, is a necessary first step towards elucidating key aspects of perceptual functions and dysfunctions. In this talk, I will review our ongoing effort towards the understanding of how feedback visual processing operates at the level of the thalamus, a dynamic relay station halfway between the retina and the cortex. I will present experimental evidence from several recent electrophysiology studies performed on subjects engaged in visual detection tasks. The results show that modulatory driving provided by top-down processes (the feedback from primary visual cortex) critically influences the ongoing thalamic activity and shapes the message to be delivered to the cortex. When neuromodulatory techniques (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or static magnetic fields) are used to transiently disrupt cortical activity two very interesting effects show up: (1) alterations in stimulus detection and (2) the spatial properties of thalamic receptive fields are dramatically modified. Finally, I will show how sensory information can be a powerful tool to interact with the motor system and re-organize altered patterns of movement in neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Organizers: Daniel Cudeiro

  • Dr. Hadi Eghlidi
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Room 5H7

Investigations and control of biological and synthetic nanoscopic species in liquids at the ultimate resolution of single entity, are important in diverse fields such as biology, medicine, physics, chemistry and emerging field of nanorobotics. Progress made to date on trapping and/or manipulating nanoscopic objects includes methods that use permanently imposed force fields of various kinds, such as optical, electrical and magnetic forces, to counteract their inherent Brownian motion.

Organizers: Peer Fischer Ardian Jusufi

  • Wenzhen Yuan
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Why cannot the current robots act intelligently in the real-world environment? A major challenge lies in the lack of adequate tactile sensing technologies. Robots need tactile sensing to understand the physical environment, and detect the contact states during manipulation. Progress requires advances in the sensing hardware, but also advances in the software that can exploit the tactile signals. We developed a high-resolution tactile sensor, GelSight, which measures the geometry and traction field of the contact surface. For interpreting the high-resolution tactile signal, we utilize both traditional statistical models and deep neural networks. I will describe my research on both exploration and manipulation. For exploration, I use active touch to estimate the physical properties of the objects. The work has included learning the hardness of artificial objects, as well as estimating the general properties of natural objects via autonomous tactile exploration. For manipulation, I study the robot’s ability to detect slip or incipient slip with tactile sensing during grasping. The research helps robots to better understand and flexibly interact with the physical world.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

Learning dynamical systems using SMC

IS Colloquium
  • 28 May 2018 • 11:15 12:15
  • Thomas Schön
  • MPI-IS lecture hall (N0.002)

Abstract: Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) methods (including the particle filters and smoothers) allows us to compute probabilistic representations of the unknown objects in models used to represent for example nonlinear dynamical systems. This talk has three connected parts: 1. A (hopefully pedagogical) introduction to probabilistic modelling of dynamical systems and an explanation of the SMC method. 2. In learning unknown parameters appearing in nonlinear state-space models using maximum likelihood it is natural to make use of SMC to compute unbiased estimates of the intractable likelihood. The challenge is that the resulting optimization problem is stochastic, which recently inspired us to construct a new solution to this problem. 3. A challenge with the above (and in fact with most use of SMC) is that it all quickly becomes very technical. This is indeed the key challenging in spreading the use of SMC methods to a wider group of users. At the same time there are many researchers who would benefit a lot from having access to these methods in their daily work and for those of us already working with them it is essential to reduce the amount of time spent on new problems. We believe that the solution to this can be provided by probabilistic programming. We are currently developing a new probabilistic programming language that we call Birch. A pre-release is available from birch-lang.org/ It allow users to use SMC methods without having to implement the algorithms on their own.

Organizers: Philipp Hennig

Making Haptics and its Design Accessible

IS Colloquium
  • 28 May 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Karon MacLean
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Today’s advances in tactile sensing and wearable, IOT and context-aware computing are spurring new ideas about how to configure touch-centered interactions in terms of roles and utility, which in turn expose new technical and social design questions. But while haptic actuation, sensing and control are improving, incorporating them into a real-world design process is challenging and poses a major obstacle to adoption into everyday technology. Some classes of haptic devices, e.g., grounded force feedback, remain expensive and limited in range. I’ll describe some recent highlights of an ongoing effort to understand how to support haptic designers and end-users. These include a wealth of online experimental design tools, and DIY open sourced hardware and accessible means of creating, for example, expressive physical robot motions and evolve physically sensed expressive tactile languages. Elsewhere, we are establishing the value of haptic force feedback in embodied learning environments, to help kids understand physics and math concepts. This has inspired the invention of a low-cost, handheld and large motion force feedback device that can be used in online environments or collaborative scenarios, and could be suitable for K-12 school contexts; this is ongoing research with innovative education and technological elements. All our work is available online, where possible as web tools, and we plan to push our research into a broader openhaptics effort.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker

Digital Humans At Disney Research

IS Colloquium
  • 25 May 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Thabo Beeler
  • MPI-IS lecture hall (N0.002)

Disney Research has been actively pushing the state-of-the-art in digitizing humans over the past decade, impacting both academia and industry. In this talk I will give an overview of a selected few projects in this area, from research into production. I will be talking about photogrammetric shape acquisition and dense performance capture for faces, eye and teeth scanning and parameterization, as well as physically based capture and modelling for hair and volumetric tissues.

Organizers: Timo Bolkart

  • Emily BJ Coffey
  • MPI IS Lecture hall (N0.002)

In this talk I will describe the main types of research questions and neuroimaging tools used in my work in human cognitive neuroscience (with foci in audition and sleep), some of the existing approaches used to analyze our data, and their limitations. I will then discuss the main practical obstacles to applying machine learning methods in our field. Several of my ongoing and planned projects include research questions that could be addressed and perhaps considerably extended using machine learning approaches; I will describe some specific datasets and problems, with the goal of exploring ideas and potentially opportunities for collaboration.

Organizers: Mara Cascianelli

  • Dr. Islam S. M. Khali
  • Stuttgart 2P4

Mechanical removal of blood clots is a promising approach towards the treatment of vascular diseases caused by the pathological clot formation in the circulatory system. These clots can form and travel to deep seated regions in the circulatory system, and result in significant problems as blood flow past the clot is obstructed. A microscopi-cally small helical microrobot offers great promise in the minimally-invasive removal of these clots. These helical microrobots are powered and controlled remotely using externally-applied magnetic fields for motion in two- and three-dimensional spaces. This talk will describe the removal of blood clots in vitro using a helical robot under ultrasound guidance. The talk will briefly introduce the interactions between the helical microrobot and the fibrin network of the blood clots during its removal. It will also introduce the challenges unique to medical imaging at micro-scale, followed by the concepts and theory of the closed-loop motion control using ultrasound feedback. It will then cover the latest experimental results for helical and flagellated microrobots and their biomedical and nanotechnology applications.

Organizers: Metin Sitti

Daniel Renjewski: bipedal gait mechanisms

  • 04 May 2018 • 11 12
  • Daniel Renjewski
  • 2p4

Daniel Renjewski presents research in bipedal gait mechanisms: 'Passive mechanisms for increased power and efficiency in bipedal gait’