Record-breaking win for Mechanical Engineering students

Two teams of researchers from the School of Mechanical Engineering have taken a record breaking number of awards at this year’s Graphical System Design Achievement Awards.

It is run by National Instruments (NI) in Texas.

One of the teams, comprised of undergraduate students, has been awarded winner of the Student Design Showcase for their Kinesthesia toolkit - a programme which merged the gaming technology Microsoft Kinect with NI's LabVIEW to develop a driver and toolkit. “We started off by developing a LabVIEW toolkit for the Kinect so we could test its capabilities,” states Dominic, a Mechanical Engineering student of the university. “After seeing the value of the toolkit, we wanted to share and make it available to other LabVIEW users via the LabVIEW tools network. So everyone in the world can download and install our toolkit, and best of all – it’s free.”

Microsoft Kinect revolutionised the games industry through its unique ability to track users’ motions and the students have been using such technology to develop a selection of motion tracking tools and programs with the specific aim of medical application in areas such as stroke rehabilitation and surgical assistance.

Another team of researchers, led by Dr David Keeling, won three awards for its design of a heart simulator, used to test an artificial “muscle wrap” supporting a failing heart by squeezing it in time with the body’s own muscle. Dr David Keeling of the university states “We can adapt the heart stimulator to fit virtually any size or shape heart, and any sort of heart disease as well.” The simulator was designed with the ability to replicate different patient groups’ illnesses, giving it the potential to reduce the need for animal testing.

The team took the Life Sciences Award, the Humanitarian Award and the overall Application of the Year Award beating high profile companies such as Siemens and many other top global universities.

Professor Levesley director of student education for Mechanical Engineering who acted as a supervisor to both teams was at the awards ceremony in Texas said “it was one of the proudest moments of my career, and shows perfectly how the impact of our teaching and research is being recognised on a truly global stage” 

Further information:
Youtube - See how Leeds' Mechanical Engineering team are using Microsoft Kinect and NI LabVIEW to reduce the cost and accessibility of kinesthetic rehabilitation devices.

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Vision Systems - Free toolkit helps Labview developers interface to the Kinect