The overall objective of the eNHANCE project is to develop, demonstrate and initiate exploitation of new concepts to enhance and train upper extremity motor function during daily-life in people with physical disabilities.

More specifically, the objectives are:

  1. To develop an intelligent bidirectional multimodal adaptive interface for supporting upper extremity motor function, including
    1. a user input interface based on eye tracking and supplementary multimodal on-body sensing
    2. a controllable mechatronic arm and hand support interface
    3. an environmental observation interface.
  2. To supplement this multimodal interface with intelligence to:
    1. assess user intention, behaviour and performance from the bidirectional interaction with the user through the multimodal interface with the user in interaction with the environment
    2. intelligently control the amount of support to the user through the bidirectional multimodal interface, taking into account user intention, behaviour and performance
    3. motivate the user to optimize level and quality of motor activity through this intelligent interface
    4. be physically challenging
    5. be aware and take into account context and social interaction
  3. To demonstrate and evaluate the motor performance of the user in interaction with this intelligent interface. The demonstration and evaluation will involve two specific target groups of disabled people with upper-extremity motor impairments:
    1. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophies, as example of motor impairment of muscular origin
    2. Stroke, as example of motor impairment of central neurological origin
  4. To prepare exploitation of the eNHANCE concepts in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) setting, involving key companies, end user communities, care institutions and knowledge institutions
  5. To create strong and continuous user involvement through their involvement in user requirement identification, evaluation and dissemination of the eNHANCE concepts to stake holders and the general public

The eNHANCE support enables the users to achieve their desired movement actions, while motivating the users to maximise their contribution. This will maximise the user performance relative to his or her personal capacity, and thus maximise the therapeutic effect. Maximising user performance requires a personalised and motivating support taking into account personal behaviour in response to arm and hand support characteristics and motivational inputs provided by the system, taking into account environment, context and social interaction. Personal behaviour will be represented by a personalised behaviour model that is adaptively identified based on the discrepancy between the performance that is actually observed and the one predicted by the model.

The eNHANCE concept for enhancing and training upper extremity motor function in people with physical disabilities during daily-life is graphically represented in figure 1.

It includes:

  1. a multimodal interface, consisting of:
    • a user control input interface, with eye tracking being the key modality, supplemented with on-body sensing modalities including EMG, inertial body movement sensing and interaction forces with environment and support system;
    • a mechatronic arm and hand support interface with supplementary communication; and
    • an environment observation interface to create context-awareness.
  2. A system to assess and characterise the user real-time, using the user control input and the data of the environmental observations, with the following components:
    • user intention detection;
    • user performance assessment.
    • user behaviour modelling, predicting the user’s performance in response to the physical arm and hand support provided by the system and supplementary motivational communication, taking into account the observed environment, context and social interactions,
  3. a personalised motor support intelligence that determines real-time the functional characteristics of the eNHANCE support, driving the multimodal adaptive interface:
    • supporting user intention,
    • optimizing this support and supplementary motivational communication based on the performance prediction by the user behavioural model.
    • motivating the user to optimise level and quality of motor activity in interaction with the environment, taking into account potential cognitive limitations to provide physically and cognitively challenging interaction (not too difficult, not too easy)
    • physically supporting the user to enable him to perform the intended motor tasks
    • stimulate and enable social interaction, supporting joint activity with other people.
    • supplementary persistent random excitation of user support and motivational communication to improve adaptive identification of the user behaviour model.

eNHANCE concept

The key eNHANCE concepts and approaches for multimodal interface, user assessment and personalised support and therapy intelligence will be described in more detail in the following sections.