Embrace Rehabilitation Companion

Thesis Question

How might we improve the life experience of people with serious mobility problems ? How can we keep them safe, motivate them to do their boring exercises, and stay in touch with friends?

Elevator Pitch

Embrace Rehab Companion is a mobile app that gamifies the daily drudgery of home rehab exercises and routines for walker users . It is a collaborative game played walker user and their friends or family. It promotes their feeling of confidence and efficacy that is essential for recovery.

General Description

“Embrace Rehabilitation Companion” is a bot within a mobile app called “Embrace Walk”. It is designed for walker users — people with spinal cord injury, stroke or aging. When it is time to do their exercises, take medication or keep an appointment with the doctor, the robot will remind the user and keep tracks of the tasks. Caregivers and loved ones can assign tasks to the walker user, send words of encouragement, and keep tracks of the progress through an app called ”Embrace View”. By May, I plan to finished two web apps — one for the walker user; another for caregiver. The apps will not only sync the data of the finished tasks but also the movement data from the smart walker.

Research Process

I spent 6 months working on the “Embrace Assistive Robot” with Rubin in “Designing for Assistive Technology”. I have done a few interviews with the primary user — a spinal cord injury patient,my father who was in a terrible accident last year. Recently, I am product testing with a fitness companion app — fitbit. In the following weeks, I am going to test the key assumption of this project — that people will actually use an app to keep track of their home rehabilitation. I am going to use an app called Wunderlist, a project management tool, and ask my dad to use it too. In the process of a week, I am going to assign tasks for my dad — do some home rehabilitation exercises — and ask him to check the tasks after he accomplishes them. I am going to speak to Diana (Scholar-in-Residence, ITP) next Wednesday about whether the doctors will use this app to connect with their patients. I am also going to do more research on home rehabilitation and how to create a delightful experience(gamification) with a companion bot.

Personal Statement

My enormous passion comes from helping my father. He recently suffered a spinal cord injury, and is paralyzed on one side of his body and is now trying hard to learn to walk again using a walker. Even with a walker, he falls several times due to unsafe usage. Every time he falls, I am so afraid that he will break something. I wondered how might we prevent him from falling by helping him use the walker safely. Together with Rubin, we designed Embrace Assistive Robot — a smart walker robot that prevents and detects falling. However, after a long interview with my dad, I found out safety is not his biggest concern, but the recovery of his quality life — a fun life.

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