Dynamic Wearable Technology: Designing and Deploying Small Climbing Robots for Sensing and Actuation on the Human Body
This thesis introduces the idea of Dynamic Wearable Technology—a concept of wearable devices as small autonomous robots that can move on and around the human body. Ecosystems in the natural world have static and dynamic organisms such as plants vs. animals. In our wearable ecosystem, all our current devices are static, thus limiting their functionality. Adding robots could significantly increase the usability of wearable devices and/or open up entirely new avenues of application.
This thesis develops and evaluates two approaches to wearable robots. First, Rovables, an on-clothing climbing robot that pinches fabric with magnetic rollers, and second, Epidermal Robots that use controlled suction to attach to the skin. The robots contain on-board navigation that uses inertial measurement units, motor encoders, and occasional ground truth from on-skin features or beacons to estimate position. In this thesis, we analyze important aspects of such robots: size, localization, weight, power consumption, and locomotion.
Dynamic wearable technology has potential applications in many areas, such as medicine, human-computer interactions, fashion, and art. We explore several applications in each of these areas. We focus on how the robots can help to systematically collect health information, such as the mechanical, optical, and electrodermal properties of tissues. Robots like these will provide new avenues of autonomous or guided medical assessment and treatment as well as new venues for the artistic and interfacial exploration of relationships between our bodies and our devices.
Joseph A. Paradiso, PhD, Professor, MIT Media Lab
Aaron Parness, PhD, Extreme Environments Robotics Group Leader, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Canan Dagdeviren, PhD, Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab