Fourier Intelligence (傅利叶智能), a Shanghai-based developer of rehabilitation robots, launched on June 10 its latest physical quantitative research and rehab system MetaMotus™ Galileo, the first-ever product combining state-of-the-art achievements of biomechanics, rehabilitative medicine and sport science.
The system, which was released via a livestreamed event, is named after the Italian astronomer and symbolizes a desire to push the physical limits of mankind and redefine the boundaries of human capabilities.
According to Alex Gu Jie, founder and CEO of Fourier Intelligence, the company came up with the idea to develop the Galileo system three years ago.
“In the past, when we designed rehab products, we mostly focused on upper or lower extremity recovery, which tended to be an isolated approach,” he said.
But as the ultimate goal of physiotherapy is to allow patients to return to normal life, companies like Fourier Intelligence have been trying to integrate virtual reality, robotics, biomechanics and other technologies over the years to roll out an all-in-one meta-rehabilitative device.
All photos courtesy of Fourier Intelligence
“We worked hard to connect daily life scenes with physical functionality,” said Gu, who founded Fourier Intelligence in 2015. “Our goal is to enable the user to undergo assessment and training in simulated real-life scenarios, so as to improve their quality of life and hasten their return to society.”
To meet this goal, the MetaMotus™ Galileo project was up and running in 2021, incorporating various components, including a six-axis mobility platform, 6D force measuring sensors, a LED panoramic screen, an adaptive treadmill, a movement capture system, upper and lower extremity rehab robots and other types of cutting-edge technologies.
Using VR techniques, MetaMotus™ Galileo’s six-degree-of-freedom platform can imitate a boat bobbing in the water as well as scenes of a person ascending and descending stairs, taking public transport, engaging in sports and stumbling.
The system increases the difficulty for the user to keep balance while completing certain tasks with upper limbs.
The 180° flexible panoramic LED screen creates an immersive environment in which the user can interact with the surroundings via multiple sensory inputs and outputs, including sound, light and sense of touch, delivering a more realistic experience and optimal rehabilitative outcomes.
Galileo also comes with six built-in 6D force measuring sensors, which capture forces and torques in a 3D space. Meanwhile, the platform is covered with a layer of high-density pressure-sensitive film that gathers data from 9,600 pressure points at a frequency of 100Hz.
When the user stands on the Galileo system, it processes the data it receives on software to evaluate his or her status of balance, plantar pressure and posture.
Galileo also can function as a two-track treadmill that collects sEMG (Electromyography) signals and produces high-resolution images of the user’s movement. It is designed to gather data generated during dynamic balancing and walking exercises.
Used together with the sEMG and 6D force measuring sensors, it shows greater versatility.
“At the heart of Galileo lies the integration of technologies. It is a catalyst for change, pushing disciplinary boundaries and reshaping the future of rehabilitation,” said Zen Koh, deputy CEO and CSO of Fourier Intelligence.
When the company worked on this system, it was intentionally designed in a way to boast a curved, wrapped structure.
“We adopted a minimalist design style,” said Darius Yang, product director responsible for developing Galileo. “So the moment the user steps onto Galileo, it is as if he or she had crossed over into a virtual world.”
Aside from providing assessment and therapeutic treatment for victims of physical disabilities, including mobility impairment, cognitive handicaps and day-to-day physical and psychological disorders, Galileo also caters to athletes and soldiers in need of augmenting their capabilities.
Therefore, the system comprises 30-plus VR-enabled modules to mimic mundane scenarios in daily life, including rowing, taking the metro, moving about on a wheelchair, scurrying across the street, and descending and ascending stairs.
Take rowing as an example. According to Yang of Fourier Intelligence, Galileo, when used together with the company’s signature 3D upper extremity rehab robot EMU, will generate an extra force to reflect gravity or water resistance while the user paddles his or her way forward in a gamified training session inspired by rowing.
This is to realize collaborative training of both upper limbs, said Yang.
Engineers from Fourier Intelligence also took into account the physical attributes of objects and showed that in the design of the Galileo system. For instance, the harder one “paddles” a boat on the screen, the higher the virtual waves.
What’s more, as the boat rises and falls with the waves, so will the Galileo platform, delivering a highly authentic user experience.
Yang said the team even designed minute detail such as shifting sunlight, shadows of a fishnet, billowing trees and even a patch of moss on a stone with such intricacy that Galileo promises to create a truly “immersive” experience for the user.
Its application is tied to day-to-day scenarios such as crossing the street. A simple task for many turns out to be unusually challenging for some patients. Yang explained that people with Parkinson’s often cannot cross the street with ease, resulting in danger.
A green light on the countdown, heavy motorized traffic and even car horns will intimidate them further, Yang said.
For this reason, Galileo includes a scenario of crossing the street to alleviate the mental burden of users. By simulating a real-world intersection with traffic lights, Galileo monitors the patients’ speed of reaction and analyzes their gait. As they steadily adapt to the process, they learn to quicken their pace when the green light is on the countdown.
Moreover, the device can also be deployed to meet needs in gait assessment, cardiopulmonary test, geriatric disease recovery and pain rehabilitation.
In addition to Galileo per se, Fourier Intelligence also debuted BioMotionX, a biomechanical workstation that consists of 3D movement capture, gait assessment treadmill, pressure distribution, force measuring platform, sEMG, plantar 5D sensors and VR gadgets.
This workstation aims to address paint points such as inability to assess disparate data from multiple rehab robots. It also extends beyond rehabilitation purposes into applications such as sport training and human-machine engineering.
Fourier Intelligence expects Galileo will become not just a piece of standard equipment at top global rehab centers, robotics labs at universities, translational clinical institutes and national sports teams’ training facilities.
Instead, it is expected to be adopted in more diverse use cases like the training, test and assessment of general-purpose robots, which the company is also working on.
“Galileo starts with but won’t stop at rehab,” said Gu of Fourier Intelligence. “We are committed to building an open platform to attract more clinical and engineering professionals to use Galileo to explore infinite possibilities.”