Project Description

The goal of this project is to use participatory design (research in which local communities are actively involved in project execution) to engage individuals with varied abilities in our local communities for the development of a wheelchair training simulator with multimodal input interfaces for wheelchair guidance and control. This project integrates neuroscience, robotics, bioengineering, physical therapy, interactive media and communication, and applied ethics. Using community engaged participatory design, the research will generate valuable insights into user interface design and communication strategies in rehabilitative robotic platforms.

Meet the Team

Kelilah Wolkowicz 
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Kelilah Wolkowicz is a mechanical engineer at UMass Lowell. Kelilah studies problems in healthcare that could be solved by applying design, control theory, and robotics. Her research focuses on developing methods and mechanisms to further enhance or promote patient independence, while addressing patients’ needs to remain, as much as possible, integrated socially and productively as members of their communities. Kelilah is an engineering faculty advocate for the River Hawks Scholar Academy, an engineering faculty fellow for DifferenceMaker, and a faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers UML chapter. 

Erika Lewis, PT, EdD, MS, CHT
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Erika Lewis, PT, EdD, CHT is an Associate Professor in Physical Therapy & Kinesiology at University of Massachusetts Lowell since 2004. Dr. Lewis’ research has been focused on the outcome of hand therapy trigger finger treatment, reliability of instruments common in hand and physical therapy, as well as novel splint material. Dr. Lewis has held leadership positions as Chair and DPT Program Director (3.5 and 4.5 years respectively). She is a co-director of the UMOVE MOVEment research Center at UMass Lowell. She has mentored graduate Doctor of Physical Therapy and undergraduate Exercise Science students through research projects and one DifferenceMaker group at UMass Lowell.

Robert E. Dempski
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Rob Dempski is  Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at WPI. As a member of the Interactive Media and Game Development Program, Rob co-founded IDeaS ( IDeaS brings together artists and developers to work on innovative mixed reality projects. Here, students use the newest hardware and software technologies in AR, VR, mobile app development and simulation design. Projects that Rob has worked on include the VR Wheelchair project, a laboratory safety AR-based project, a smartphone app to better visualize protein structures and an AR-based program to help users assemble complex chemical instrumentation. In each case, it has been shown that these programs are more efficacious in learning outcomes when compared to traditional classroom and laboratory approaches.

Lab Link >>

Yunus Doğan Telliel
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Yunus Doğan Telliel is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Rhetoric at WPI. He is affiliated with the Interactive Media and Game Development Program. As a design anthropologist, he collaborates with engineers and computer scientists on a number of projects focusing on ethical design: from nursing robots, to nonprofit platforms, to robotic wheelchairs. He is the social sciences lead of WPI’s  NSF Research Traineeship Program on ‘Future of Robots in the Workplace’. In addition, with the support of the   Public Interest Technology University Network, he has co-introduced  ‘JustT Collab (Collaborative for Technology for Transformative Justice) at WPI. His work at JustT Collab focuses on forging new connections among   social justice, critical policy studies, and science and engineering education. As an extension of his interest in workplace technologies, he serves as a co-chair of   the IEEE Brain Neuroethics Subcommittee’s ‘Work and Employment’ working group

Yuko Oda
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Yuko Oda specializes in the area of 3D/ Expanded Media in the Art and Design Department at UMass Lowell, and her artwork, research, and teaching stands at the intersection of Fine Art and Technology. Her expertise includes 3D fabrication techniques including traditional sculpture, digital 3D modeling, animation, 3D printing, 3D scanning, Virtual Reality 3D sculpting, interactive media, and motion capture. During her tenure at New York Institute of Technology, Oda taught a course partnering with the Henry Viscardi Center for Children with disabilities, and in 2019 she was Design Instructor for “Adaptive Futures” at Beaver Country Day School, partnering with Boston Children’s Hospital to develop adaptive devices for children with disabilities.  

Alexander Sirois
University of Massachusetts Lowell

With each project he undertakes, Alexander Sirois radiates a profound sense of pride in his quest to craft exceptional, customized 3D creations that are infused with individuality. He remains steadfast and unswayed, regardless of the complexity of the task before him. As a virtuosic artist, he is fully committed to exploring varied methodologies and techniques with a special focus on 3D modeling and digital sculpting. His artistry is channeled towards creating immersive game art and cinematic experiences, where his character designs possess a remarkable adaptability that unlocks their full potential for storytelling. Through this creative expression, Alexander unleashes his innate passion and drive for perfecting the virtual representation of his artwork. His unwavering dedication is buoyed by the consistent support of his peers and mentors, who provide him with constructive critiques, insightful feedback, and an abundance of encouragement, inspiring him to continue his path towards achieving ultimate success.

Max Chen
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Max Chen is a PhD student in Interactive Media and Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is a member of Crafting Computational Crafting Lab, Intentional Design Studio, and HCI Lab. Her research focuses on computational design, with a particular emphasis on developing novel interfaces for immersive environments such as video games, virtual reality, and augmented reality. As a research assistant at WPI Academic & Research Computing, she develops, implements, and evaluates digital media products that support and promote faculty research, teaching, scholarship, and external partnerships. 

Yihong Xu
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Yihong Xu is a BS student double majoring in Computer Science and Interactive Media & Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is also a research assistant at the WPI Global Lab and a fellow at the WPI Intentional Design Studio. Yihong’s research interests are focused on leveraging computer science technologies to Humanities and Arts disciplines, with a particular emphasis on improving quality of and enhancing accessibility to innovative media technologies. He is committed to using his skills and expertise to develop innovative solutions that improve people’s lives. 

Claire Li
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Claire Li is a PhD student in Interactive Media and Game Development program in Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is a member of WPI Realtime Expressive Programming Lab(REPL), VIEW Lab, HCI Lab and IDeaS Studio. Her research focuses on Human-computer Interaction and Empathic Computing in Extended Reality (XR), with an emphasis on collaborative interaction development and collaborative experience analysis in the virtual environment. She also works on development and evaluation in XR application for educational purpose, and live coding in Augmented Reality(AR). 

Lehong Wang
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Lehong Wang is a BS student double majoring in Robotics Engineering and Computer Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is also a research assistant at the Robotic Materials Group and a fellow at the WPI Intentional Design Studio. Lehong’s research interests are focused on Additive Manufacturing technologies and Robotics Manipulation.

Masoumeh Farhadi Nia
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Masoumeh Farhadi Nia is a PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she is a member of CARE, Collaborative Assistive and Rehabilitative Robotics Engineering, and CACT, Center for Advanced Computation and Telecommunications, labs. Her research focuses on Signal Processing and AI, with a particular emphasis on EEG- based Brain-Computer- Interface (BCI) signal analysis for electric wheelchair navigation. 


Documentation video of WheelUp!

Max Chen testing out one of the VR simulators.

3D printed case and joystick programmed to work with wheelchair and VR simulator.

Setting up furniture and interior space for wheelchair navigation in VR simulator.

Example of diagram for VR simulator set up.

Lighting and texturing tests using 3D models and architectural designs.

The workplace training environment that focuses on helping users learn navigation through tight spaces and pushing chairs to make way. (Asset reference link>> )

The map of the restaurant scene.

The map of the office scene.