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Journal of Robotics
Volume 2011, Article ID 528425, 13 pages
Research Article

Single-Switch User Interface for Robot Arm to Help Disabled People Using RT-Middleware

1Intelligent Systems Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Ibaraki, Tsukuba 305-8568, Japan
2Department of Rehabilitation Engineering, Research Institute of National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities, Saitama, Tokorozawa, 359-8555, Japan

Received 1 June 2011; Revised 16 September 2011; Accepted 30 September 2011

Academic Editor: Tetsuya Mouri

Copyright © 2011 Yujin Wakita et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We are developing a manipulator system in order to support disabled people with less muscle strength such as muscular dystrophy patients. Such a manipulator should have an easy user interface for the users to control it. But the supporting manipulator for disabled people cannot make large industry, so we should offer inexpensive manufacturing way. These type products are called “orphan products.” We report on the construction of the user interface system using RT-Middleware which is an open software platform for robot systems. Therefore other user interface components or robot components which are adapted to other symptoms can be replaced with the user interface without any change of the contents. A single switch and scanning menu panel are introduced as the input device for the manual control of the robot arm. The scanning menu panel is designed to perform various actions of the robot arm with the single switch. A manipulator simulation system was constructed to evaluate the input performance. Two muscular dystrophy patients tried our user interface to control the robot simulator and made comments. According to the comments by them, we made several improvements on the user interface. This improvements examples prepare inexpensive manufacturing way for orphan products.