The Karate Kid Analogy

A project log for 2020 HDP Dream Team: UCPLA

The 2020 HDP Dream Teams are participating in a two month engineering sprint to address their nonprofit partner. Follow their journey here.

Kelvin ChowKelvin Chow 07/13/2020 at 01:030 Comments

In my previous two log entries, I explored two concepts: IMUs and machine learning.  In this log, I will try to put the two together and discuss the application relevant to this project for designing a universal remote control for people with cerebral palsy.   


My first introduction to this project was through the Q&A session between Hackaday and UCPLA.  Through this video and a second follow-up Q&A session, we learned about one of UCPLA's great programs they offer to their community - fine arts.  Before watching these videos, I had no idea what the range of motion individuals with cerebral palsy possessed and watched with curiosity how different individuals overcame their limitations in order to paint.  Watching individuals  paint with their heads, their feet, and their hands was inspiring.  It also sparked a memory for me.  

*Image taken from Hackaday/UCPLA Q&A video.


For some reason, I thought about the scenes from the Karate Kid movie where part of Mr. Miyagi's karate training was asking his pupil, Daniel, to do repetitive chores.  Daniel grew frustrated doing physical chores but didn't realize the lesson of waxing Mr. Miyagi's car, painting his fence, or sanding his floor.  The real purpose of these chores was to teach repetitive motions that were useful for self defence.  

*Image source 


My thought was, UCPLA is running a painting program to encourage their community to do physical activity while gaining individuality and purpose.  These painting motions such as a vertical, horizontal, or circular paintbrush stroke, are different repetitive motions that they are learning.  Can we find a way to understand their unique motions and use it for something besides painting, such as controlling smart devices?  

Ideally, we want to find a solution that seamlessly integrates with UCPLA's existing programs.  One idea was to use IMUs/EMGs to digitally record their painting sessions and through machine learning, classify different gestures.  Are there other fun, engaging, physical activities they offer?  Music? Video games? Household chores!?!?!?!