June 24, 2009
University HQ, Coimbatore
Collaborative efforts between Amrita and Arizona State University took a step forward this past week when Dr. Kanav Kahol from the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Arizona’s School of Engineering came for Amma’s darshan in Los Angeles. Following darshan, Dr. Kahol met with Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan and Ms. Bhavani Bijlani, PIs of two of Amrita’s MHRD-funded projects.
“The Government of India wants to promote e-learning because today’s colleges only cater to 5% of the population, and the colleges vary widely in quality,” explained Dr. Krishnashree to Dr. Kahol. “We are involved in a huge initiative that is MHRD funded to develop virtual labs and provide the content of engineering learning online.” Dr. Krishnashree is heading Amrita’s participation in a consortium of several universities led by IIT-Delhi for this project.
Dr. Kahol also met with Bhavani who is leading the MHRD-funded vocational training program. The group will develop low cost haptic devices with touch sensitivity to provide a virtual experience to help teach vocational skills. Examples of vocational skills that will be taught include fabric painting, tailoring, welding, plumbing, soldering, sawing, dental lab technician, masonry, virtual sculpting for ancient wood carving, dance movements, making incense sticks and pottery.
“While we have years of experience teaching vocational skills and many years of experience in multimedia productions, the haptics / simulation part is new to us,” Bhavani told Dr. Kahol. “In our search for low cost options for haptics, we have decided to use or customize the Novint Falcon to begin with. We are also simultaneously looking into developing our own low cost haptic devices.” Dr. Kahol also briefly spoke with Ms. Karen Moawad regarding simulation needs at the School of Medicine.
Dr. Kahol with his colleagues focuses on the design and development of novel human machine interfaces. Dr. Kahol said that he was eager to help Amrita in this new and emerging field. He explained the value of the Nintendo Wii technology that could be used for the simulation training. He also offered to share his course materials on Haptics and to help set up potential research in this area at Amrita. Amrita looks forward to this collaborative partnership and thanks Dr. Kahol for his gracious generosity of time and ideas.