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EMBC 2014 My Observations and Thoughts about Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering–what a hotbed of innovation and energy!
I attended the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference 2014 last week and my head is still buzzing. The language of engineering was familiar but one I don’t get to use much on a daily basis–algorithms, smoothing techniques, sensors, modulators, and more.

Although topics related to movement were only a small share presented, many other topics were relevant to our work at Kinetic Konnections–big data analytics and measurement techniques.
As long as I’ve been developing Kinetic Bridging I’ve been on a quest to find ways to quantify changes observed. My quest has led to many subject matter experts in education, psychology, vision, speech and development. For the many ways I’ve tried to incorporate measures there have been hurdles suggesting the approach was not right. I think I’ve finally found an answer and will be integrating movement measurements selectively over the coming months.

Insights and observations to share-
1. Women engineers are abundant in medical and biological aspects of engineering! For those of you with daughters interested in STEM fields of study I encourage them to give biomedical engineering consideration.
2. Research is getting a bit more practical. I saw many teams who are using iPhone and Kinect devices for data capture. This makes for a cost effective, practical, scalable solution which will be simpler to use from a consumer standpoint.
3. Brain-computer interface solutions and applications are evolving significantly. The Bionic Man is closer and closer to reality. But it seems the more is understood about the brain’s ability to control movement, the more unanswered questions there are as well.
4. Movement-related engineering still focuses on very detailed understanding of muscle enervation. This muscle by muscle and cell by cell approach is easy to measure using established methods, but yields no breakthrough insights. I rarely find functional movement related to a discrete pairing of muscles–we humans are just not that simple!
5. One study did catch my attention–movement efficiency and energy use. Sort of intuitive hypothesis, but they were able to prove that moving efficiently used less energy. Huge implications for older adults whose postural changes produce inefficient movement. I think there are huge applications to children who move inefficiently, and thus choose to not move since it is truly tiring.

Overall I’m encouraged to see such energy and thought being applied to make the world a healthier place!