The OrbIT System Proves Games Can Be Therapy

An accessible gaming system for people with hand impairments.

For people with hand impairments, playing video games isn’t always possible. But the OrbIT accessible gaming system provides an alternative.

“It facilitates access for people who have an impairment,” says David Hobbs, Lecturer and Rehabilitation Engineer at Flinders University. “They can play video or computer games, but at the same time, they’re getting therapy – and that’s the power. They’re getting access to a health alternative through the technology we’ve developed,” he says.

The development process took two and a half years from the initial idea to the first trial. More than twelve different professional disciplines were represented in the team, from industrial design to physiotherapy.

OrbIT’s reception has been sweepingly positive – “especially from children,” says Hobbs. “They want to take OrbIT home.”

What are the games like?

“Most of the games are interactive, fun games. And the reason for that is we want people to engage and play with it,” says Hobbs.

“The ultimate plan is to increase our portfolio of games, and to increase our games catalogue, so we have more attraction and more appeal. Games for little children; games for teenagers; games for adults and more learning games that make the grey matter [of the brain] – the cerebral part – work really well.”

Does it have other applications?

Other benefits of the OrbIT system might soon be uncovered.

“We’re very keen to trial it with people who have Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, because we believe it might provide a neuroprotective effect where they can game and use both their hands, and receive signals through their hands at the same time,” says Hobbs.

“So it may have the effect were it can be used as a preventative. But at the moment, we’re seeing it as a rehabilitative intervention for increased and improved hand function.”

If you’d like to know more about the OrbIT system, connect with us and we’ll put you in touch with David. He can also be found on Twitter at @DavidHobbs08.

Do you have a tech idea of your own? Here are the reasons why you should apply to our HWA LAB.

Five-day technology event #HybridWorldADL returns to Adelaide in July.

Last year’s #HWALAB winners lead the way in the fight against cancer

Health science has come a long way, but there’s always room to improve the technology used. That’s the challenge tackled every day by science tech company RHS. Ltd, according to Dr. Michelle Fraser (CEO and Managing Director) and Dr. Melinda Jasper (Chief Scientific Officer).

“We’re a company that makes products for testing single cells, and whether they’ve got the right amount of DNA in them,” says Michelle. “So [we can tell] whether they’ve got a genetic fault that causes disease.”

Designing products to make scientists’ lives easier seemed like a natural step for both Melinda and Michelle. Both have been involved in the field for years, initially as research scientists themselves. RHS itself was borne out of The University of Adelaide’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology over a decade ago, where the tests being developed initially focused on screening pregnancies for Down syndrome, before moving to the testing of cells in developing embryos prior to an IVF cycle.

One of their ideas centred on software that analyses genetic data to the point you can zoom in on a single base change linked to disease. It won them first place and a share in $85,000 of SA Government grants at last year’s HWA Lab; an experience both speak highly of.

“I think it’s always good to get in front of an audience of people that don’t have the scientific background in your products, or the market space that you work in, and do a cold pitch to them. It makes sure that the message of who you are and what you do is relevant to everyone,” says Michelle. “It was good to receive the mentoring over the couple of days in the lead-up to the pitch, too, just to hone the messaging that comes out in that final 10 minute presentation.”

“I think it’s always good to get in front of an audience of people that don’t have the scientific background in your products, or the market space that you work in, and do a cold pitch to them.”

“It’s also really interesting to think about how the technology has applications outside of the immediate project that you’re working on,” Melinda adds.

RHS is launching its third product this year, and is using the grant to develop a modified version of the software for the IVF market and other applications, like prenatal or cancer diagnosis. “If we’ve got software that can underpin all of that, it opens up a whole platform of genetic tests that can be done on different cells. Not even just human cells – we can extend it beyond that,” says Michelle.

Developing the software is a difficult task, but the prospect of discovering something new is one that drives the team at RHS.

“Being in the laboratory, you’re often the first person to find something new out,” Melinda says.

“…it’s really exciting to think if your results answer a really important question or solve a problem, you’re the only person [in the world] who knows the answer. It’s rewarding and really inspiring.”

This year’s #HybridWorldADL will take place in late July in the city of Adelaide. For more details on the #HWALAB, and how to apply, click here.