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K-State Today

August 29, 2013

Health care robotics collaboration presented at national conference

Submitted by Heather Wagoner

Saeed Khan, associate professor of engineering technology, presented a paper at the 2013 American Association of Engineering Education's national conference in Atlanta, Ga.

Along with his co-authors Lee and Beverly Gatton of Gatton Research and Development, Khan described a model of collaboration between entrepreneurs and academics in which a key goal is to create undergraduate research opportunities by forming industry-academe partnerships in applied research.

Any successful undergraduate research program requires a certain amount of faculty expertise, proper funding and challenging projects that are good motivational drivers for students. The paper describes a yearlong effort to develop applied research partnerships with entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry while at the same time jointly seeking external funding from government and non-government entities. 

The paper documented the early stage of a project that is designed to inexpensively enhance eldercare, the demand for which is skyrocketing in today’s aging society, using robotic platforms. This project addresses a real-world need while providing students the opportunity to make an original intellectual or creative contribution, having all the elements that drive quality research and attract faculty, student and entrepreneurial interest alike.

It is motivated by the need to control home health care costs, improve the quality of life for an aging population and their caregivers, allow patients to be more involved in their own care, help prevent premature hospitalization or long stays in assisted living facilities and provide an avenue for social engagement through a conversational interface using socially assistive robots. It expounds on efforts to create a research infrastructure through research and collaborative grant writing.

Khan will also serve as a co-author with Lee Gatton at the upcoming American Association of Engineering Education Midwest Conference to be Sept. 18-20 in Salina. The paper will describe a two-year research effort in the area of socially assistive robotic technology in reducing in-home health care costs, which continue to rise. The project focuses on interfacing commercially available physiological sensors, such as for blood pressure or heart rate, with a mobile robotic platform that is equipped with a conversational interface.

This conversational interface will engage the user to remind them of measurement times, reschedule times as required, and provide feedback and encouragement all done in a conversational manner. This is done to keep the user involved and participating in their healthcare and their well-being. This is necessary because a program of continually monitoring one’s own healthcare parameters can become very tedious and the temptation to forgo the monitoring process begins to grow as time progresses.