Dr. Myunghee Kim

Harvard University




1043, ERF


Reduced balance is a critical challenge for individuals with disabilities, most notably in affecting their ability to walk. Advances in wearable devices, robotic exoskeletons, or prostheses have opened great potential to assist those individuals. However, one central challenge remains: how to control these sophisticated devices, while also taking into account human responses. For, humans often respond unintuitively when assisted. Dr. Kim has been working on developing human-in-the-loop control using a combination of theoretical and experimental methods to solve this problem.
Dr. Kim developed the first balance-assistance controller that successfully reduced balance-related efforts of steady-state walking in a wearable device. This result was achieved by modulating ankle push-off work at each step in an ankle-foot prosthesis emulator, while directly including a subject’s balance state in a control strategy. This control idea was initially developed from her theoretical study using a numerical model of amputee walking.
At Harvard, to maximize assistance benefit, she is now developing a systematic, efficient individualization method, human-in-the-loop online optimization, for a textile-based soft robotic exoskeleton. Her approach uses the physiological signal expressed during a human subject’s effort (metabolic cost) to optimize the control parameters of the wearable device. By utilizing Bayesian optimization – sample-efficient, noise-tolerant, and global optimization methods – she has demonstrated that an optimal parameter can be found within 30 minutes, with a great reduction in metabolic cost.
In this seminar, she will discuss the challenges and opportunities offered by the human-in-the-loop balance-assistance controller and online optimization method she has developed. One exciting future direction will be to design controllers that take into account non-steady-state dynamics, including gait transition and adaptation. The methodology, designing and experimentally evaluating computational approaches, also holds promise for designing even more effective assistance methods.

Dr. Kim’s research goal is to develop wearable devices that can improve mobility and quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Her current interest lies in optimizing control inputs in wearable devices, while including humans in the process. She also has interests in characterizing motor movement and training of motor function involving robotic devices.
Dr. Myunghee Kim is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. She received her B.S. from Hanyang University in 2002; M.S. degrees from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in 2004 and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2006; and the Ph.D. degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 2015, all in mechanical engineering. She was a control engineer in humanoid robotics at Samsung. Her work on “An ankle-foot prosthesis emulator with Control of Plantarflexion and Inversion-Eversion Torque” was awarded Best Paper Award in the Medical Devices category at ICRA 2015.

Host: Dr. Michael Scott
For more information, please contact Prof. Michael Scott, mjscott@uic.edu.