Students Develop Novel Human Computer Interface

October 21, 2010
School of Engineering, Coimbatore

There seems to be only a thin line separating man from machine these days. With rapid advancements in robotics, more human tasks are being performed to near perfection by machines. A recent engineering student project from Coimbatore bears witness to this fact.


Five final-year B.Tech. students of Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering developed a novel Human Computer Interface that effectively bridges the gap between man and machine.

Chosen as best project from the department, the Human Computer Interface was conceived as a low-cost yet efficient gesture recognition system.

The system detects, identifies and responds to hand gestures via changes in biosignals. Of the many biosignals available, Electro Myo Gram (EMG) signals are used for their accuracy. The system then mimics the gestures using a robotic manipulator.

EMG Machine

“Existing systems currently available use high-end and expensive EMG machines to acquire signals from muscles,” explained Mr. Sanjivi Arul, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering. “ But this student-built system costs less than Rs 5000.”

Mr. Arul guided the students in completing the project.

The recreation of hand gestures has numerous applications including robotic arms, manipulators and in bionics (prosthetic arms). Human Computer Interface also opens up possibilities for remotely controlled humanoid robots that can handle precise and heavy duty operations.

The project recently won a cash award of Rs. 30,000 in the AUMA Annual Challenge 2010.

RoboticsAn all-India inter-collegiate contest open to all undergraduate students of Instrumentation Engineering, the contest is conducted annually by the Indian subsidiary of AUMA Riester GmbH & Co, Germany, a leading electric actuator and gearbox manufacturer.

This year, jury members for the contest included Prof. Rajanna K., Prof. and Chairman, Instrumentation Department, Indian Institute of Science and Dr. Dinesh N.S., Principal Research Scientist, Center for Electronics Design and Technology, Indian Institute of Science.

“The students’ work is currently a proof of concept that EMG signals can be used to control robotic manipulators,” stated Mr. Arul. “Further research is needed before we can bring it in to actual applications.”

And what do the students say?

“We spent more than a year in this project and put our heart and soul into it. Our main goal was to design a low-cost device and we are happy to have succeeded. We thank Mr. Sunil Nag, our class adviser and Mr. Sanjivi Arul, our guide for their immense support throughout.”

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