Gaming Controller for Rehabilitation Therapy

Faculty Member Name: Elizabeth Croft and Mike Van der Loos
Preferred Contact Method: email
Contact With: (cover letter, resume, work terms available)
Contact Before: Feb 10
Open to Co-op students: (Y/N) Y
Total Pay including NSERC USRA award: $9000 for 4 months
Will the position still be offered to the selected candidate if a NSERC URSA cannot be secured? No, leveraging is required by grant funding. A summer work-study position could be considered as an alternative.
Total Pay without NSERC USRA award? N/A

All applicants must be eligible for the NSERC USRA program.

Deadline for Applications, via email, February 10.

Applications should include a cover letter indication the position of interest and reporting your GPA, resume, transcripts – copies or download from SIS is fine). Applications should be submitted by email to: with the subject line CARIS Lab USRA. PDF format for attachment is preferred. Please, no compressed files or executables and no total attachment size over 1 MB.

Interviews for selected applicants will be scheduled for February 17.

Appropriate for MECH/MECHA, EECE, ENPH, CS, COGS students, any year.


The Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CARIS) Laboratory is an undertaking by researchers at the University of British Columbia interested in human-robot interaction and intelligent robotics.  At the CARIS lab, we study and implement safe, transparent, comfortable, and useful interactions between people and robots.

Ongoing research involves the application of several robot platforms including a Willow Garage PR2, two 7-DOF Barrett Whole-Arm Manipulators (WAM)  with BarrettHands, two 6-DOF CRS robotic arms with grippers, a 6-axis motion platform, mobile robots, vision systems, physiological sensor systems, and motion capture systems.


Our lab is located in the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, BC Canada.   For more information please visit

Position Description

The FEATHERS project combines low-cost robotic devices, a bimanual training program for persons with a physical disability, social media frameworks such as Facebook Games, and on-line performance sharing between therapy clients and with their therapists.

This combination represents a best-practices approach to bidirectional knowledge transfer, development of technology and design of well-coordinated home-based therapy. We expect that these approaches will yield interventions for people with stroke and children with hemiparetic cerebral palsy that significantly improve functional ability and lead to improved quality of life. We are working with 2 community rehabilitation clinics in the Vancouver area, and we are targeting that our devices will be used in a home-based therapy program for young persons with hemiparetic cerebral palsy and older persons who have had a stroke.

Specifically, we have already programmed a PS3 Move and Kinect to allow two-handed gestures to control motions of the cursor and to perform key-press functions. The next step is to adapt these controllers ergonomically for our target population of users, in other words, how to assist persons with CP or those recovering from a stroke, and therefore have difficulty grasping, to hold the controllers. For this, candidate will be working alongside an interdisciplinary group of mechanical engineers, physical therapists and kinesiologists.

The candidate, working under the tight supervision of the principal investigator and a graduate student, contribute to this work by designing, programming and testing a new gaming controller for persons who have become hemiparetic as a result of CP or a stroke. This work will combine ergonomics, a sensitivity about disability, electromechanical design and motion programming. A summer intern is sought to complete the technology-testing milestone for the PWSI-funded FEATHERS “Functional Engagement in Assisted Therapy through Exercise Robotics” project, which focuses on completing final software development and assisting the graduate students in testing our system with post-stroke and hemiparetic-CP computer users.

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