The Simulation Research in Surgery, Medicine, Health, Informatics and Special Needs Group is led by Dr Catherine Todd and specialises in research across each of these areas in the context of community engagement.
The Group is involved in a number of collaborative, funded research projects that simulate medical and health-related endeavours through the use of virtual manipulation techniques and immersive technology, for the benefit of patients, researchers and medical practitioners.
Research Projects within the Simulation Research Group include:
Early Years Application (EYA) Jan 2013 - Current
Research Assistant: Mr Muhammad Niazi
EYA is a custom software solution developed in the UAE, based on UK curriculum, that provides an opportunity for English as a Second Language (ESL) students to learn and develop their literacy and linguistic skills in their vital developmental years. The software provides three modules directed at listening, reading and writing in English, offering interactive activities for skill development and individual assessment.
Tasks include challenges in phonetics and spelling, combined with audio-visual prompts. The implementation of artificial intelligence (fuzzy logic) in the listening and reading modules enables dynamic, automatic assignment of activity sets and assessments to the child in real time, based on their individual proficiencies. In the writing module, Handwriting Character Recognition (HCR) enables automatic classification. The EYA was developed in C# and XAML utilising Microsoft Visual Studio Professional 2012 SDK, on a Windows 8 platform.
In comparison to existing solutions, the EYA software complements current practice in education, providing expansive curriculum-based activities and automatic assessment of an individual child. The software provides a custom, engaging yet comprehensive package, toward universal education and social inclusion in mainstream education and wider community involvement.
Thorough testing and class room deployment indicates success for the ICT-based support system, engaging parents, teachers and administrators in the progress and education of children in ESL. The EYA has been tested and deployed locally, at Deira International School (Industry Partner) and at the orphanage LiveItUp Uganda.
VirtuNav Jan 2013 - Current
Research Assistants: Mr Jude Rojas, Ms Swati Mallya, Ms Sara Majeed
VirtuNav is a haptic-, audio-enabled Virtual Reality (VR) simulator that facilitates persons with visual impairment to explore a 3D computerised model of a real-life indoor location, such as a classroom or hospital. For administrative purposes, the screen displays a 2D overhead view of the map to monitor user progress and location relative to the reconstructed 3D environment.
The system offers two unique interfaces: a free-roam interface where the user can freely navigate and interact with the environment, and an edit mode where the administrator can manage test users, manage maps and retrieve test data. VirtuNav is developed as a practical application offering several unique features including map design, semi-automatic 3D map reconstruction and object classification from 2D map data.
Visual and haptic rendering of real-time 3D map navigation are provided as well as automated administrative functions including determination of shortest path taken, comparison with the actual path taken, and assessment of performance indicators relating to time taken for exploration and collision data.
VirtuNav is a research tool for investigation of user familiarity developed after repeated exposure to the indoor location, to determine the extent to which haptic and/or sound cues improve a visually impaired user’s ability to navigate a room or building with or without occlusion.
The system has been trialled among children with restricted sight at the Moorfields Hospital, Dubai Healthcare City, with initial tests demonstrating a dramatic increase in spatial awareness among a number of participants. System testing reveals that spatial awareness and memory mapping improve with user iterations within VirtuNav.
Yoga Journey Sept 2013 - Current
Research Assistants: Ms Zahraa Al-khaqany, Ms Rawan Saleh, Ms Sarah Diab, Mr Ali Salim, Mr Mina Soltan
"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self,” quoted by Bhagavad Gita, Hindu philosophy. Yoga is therefore, in essence, a journey not a destination, since such is the case, an applicable title was designated to communicate the experience of connection of the mind, body and soul to self via yoga.
This journey is experienced by the user with custom software that offers yoga tutorials, providing a flexible intelligent technological approach, enabling the user to proceed through a variety of yoga tutorials with in-built, automated real-time assessment of the yoga position versus that of a virtual instructor. The user is graded based on their performance whilst using the software.
The software is targeting people who want to learn or enhance their skills in yoga. This software solution facilitates the practice of several yoga routines for a person undertaking the tutorials in the privacy of their own home or office. In addition to this flexibility, the software will provide the trainee to practice different yoga routines whenever he or she wants. The trainee will save time and costs since attending yoga sessions will not be necessary.
In countries such as United Arab Emirates where the climate is extremely warm, the trainee will be able to practice the yoga poses indoor. In addition, since females may find it difficult to participate in mix yoga classes due to their cultural and beliefs; the Yoga Journey software will solve the problem by offering them the chance to train and upgrade their yoga skills at their own home.
An Innovative Cost-Effective Semi-Holographic Approach to University Teaching and Learning Jan 2013 - Current
Research Assistant: Ms Sara Majeed
In collaboration with the Smart Systems, Robotics, Sensor Networks and Ubiquitous Computing Research Group, this research aims to demonstrate and rigorously analyse 3D holographic displays and propose semi-holographic projections as tools to enhance learning with perceived educational benefits.
This applied research, which is motivated by the need to rejuvenate and enhance the learning process, seeks to research the limitations of existing 3D holographic projections and possible solutions, research the technical requirements of implementing cost effective 3D semi-holographic projections, research the educational barriers and suggest ways to address them using our proposed technologies, and research applications of our findings in other areas such as construction and real estate.
The results of this research include the implementation of a cost-effective semi-holographic 3D projection display to enhance learning in various educational fields including engineering. We plan to incorporate our findings in our classrooms at UOWD.
Other research ventures undertaken within the Centre by the Simulation Group relate to collaborations with industry, other academic institutions and higher degree research supervision. Such current research includes development of force sensor technology during surgery, medical image processing with visiting research fellow positions and remote co-supervision of PhD candidates from the UOW, Australia, by Dr Catherine Todd.
For more information about research grants awarded to the Group, visit the Internal and External Grants section.