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Building a better relationship: humans and machines


April 13, 2010

The Human Machine Symbiosis Lab (HMS) at ASU's Department of Biomedical Informatics (BMI) is working to make interactions between humans and machines easier and more effective.

“The goal of my research is to design, develop and evaluate a socially relevant, knowledge-driven collaborative training network for medical education. With this system, students as well as physicians can interact with each other for problem-solving and decision-making,” said Prabal Khanal, a BMI doctoral student and researcher for HMS.

“They can also utilize their expertise to interact with patients in the virtual system.”  This technology can be very useful as a practical application for simulating surgery for practicing medical students.

Using collaborations between researchers from diverse fields, the HMS lab is able to implement information gathered from pattern recognition, signal processing, multimedia, information systems, visualizations, psychology, computer graphics and other resources. This allows for a unique approach to solving problems and developing designs. These collaborations are vital in designing technology such as “touch screens” which require the knowledge of biomechanics as well as engineering.

“Working in an interdisciplinary collaboration helps mainly during the validation phase," said Khanal. "We are developing these kinds of simulators to provide virtual collaborative sessions to medical students and physicians. So, the system must closely resemble the real world scenario. Our technical team is capable of developing the system, however we, initially, might not know how physicians or surgeons interact with patients and with each other in a team. This information is provided to us by experts in the medical field. With their feedback, we are able to design more realistic simulators.”

The philosophy at the HMS lab is to see humans and machines in a relationship which reflects each others’ positive traits as represented by their logo, a variation of the Yin-Yang.

Visit the HMS Lab Web site for more information.