Researchers from Ben-Gurion University have created a robotic system that can play Tic Tac Toe with rehabilitation patients to better improve their everyday task performance, according to Science Daily.
The team created the game with a robotic arm that stimulates an activity of daily living in 3D. They replicated the action of drinking from a cup, which is a focus for rehabilitation patients. Social robots are new to the field of rehabilitating patients; therefore, the researchers underwent a lot of experimentation to understand optimal conditions.
“Playing Tic Tac Toe with a set of cups (instead of X’s and O’s) is one example of a game that can help rehabilitate an upper limb,” says Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek of BGU’s Department of Physical Therapy, and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, according to Science Daily. “A person can pick up and place many cups while enjoying a game and improving their performance of a daily task.”
There were two set-ups for this study. Participants were given the choice to play with a robotic arm or against computer-controlled LED lights. Both the young and older adults preferred the robotic system. Some said it was more human-like, while others said the robot made the game more interesting and fun.
A surprising finding the researchers noticed was the robot’s slow and monotonous movement influenced the player to move slower.
Eventually, researchers hope to test their device on rehabilitating stroke victims.