Simplifying Research with the New Caplex GUI

July 20, 2020

Humotech’s latest updates to the Caplex GUI bring wearable assistive device research one step further into the future.

You’re a researcher or product designer working on the next breakthrough in exoskeleton or prosthesis technology. You have an idea, but you don’t know if it’s going to work. You want to test it out with physical hardware, but you don’t want to spend the time or money to build your own hardware.

That’s where Humotech comes in with the Caplex system, a platform technology based on a  “design, test, then build” model. In a nutshell, researchers can use the platform to test out an idea they have for wearable assistive devices ⁠— an exoskeleton or prosthesis, for example ⁠— by emulating its mechanics before they build their first prototype. 

But maybe you want to test multiple wearable devices at once, or test the mechanics of a completely new design your team has come up with; let’s say you’ve built a custom hip exoskeleton and you want it to work in concert with one of Humotech’s EXO-001 ankle exoskeletons. 

Here’s where things become more challenging. 

Previously, testing out a new product design with Caplex also involved engineering a new graphical user interface (GUI), a key component of the Caplex system. It’s a labor-heavy task that can take hundreds of hours ⁠— time that could be better spent addressing much bigger research questions. In the case of the custom hip exoskeleton, questions such as, “how can I coordinate exoskeleton control across multiple joints in order to provide the most benefit to the user?”

One GUI to rule them all.

On a mission to help customers answer those BIG questions, Humotech set out in 2019 to improve their GUI so that it could work with any new design a client might bring to the table. With several rounds of updates, the Caplex GUI has today been completely re-engineered to take assistive device research to the next level, making it quicker, easier, and more reliable than ever before for users.

In addition to eliminating issues with gaps in real-time plots, the flexible GUI is able to adapt to any controller, instead of requiring the creation of a custom GUI tab or integral changes to the GUI code for every new or modified controller. So whether you’re using Humotech’s original Simulink controllers or creating your own, the new Caplex GUI brings the controller and any hardware to life.

A view of the Caplex system: a tethered wearable device (such as a below-the-knee prosthesis) connects to two off-board components, an actuator unit and a control system (highlighted in blue), which includes the graphical user interface (GUI).

The new Caplex GUI is available as an upgrade for all current Caplex systems and is the standard interface for all new systems. Here’s a rundown of key benefits to users:

  • Make new or existing controllers compatible in minutes;
  • Customize the GUI layout (plots, tables) according to your preferences and save those configurations for fast set-up;
  • Freely add new parameters or signals to your model and to the GUI;
  • Create parameter profiles for every controller, allowing for immediate changes between customizable parameter value sets;
  • Select and organize parameters and signals, including torque, shape, velocity, and power;
  • Identify parameters or signals as having special significance, linking them to specialized input interfaces such as signal taring buttons or a centralized panel with control options;
  • Quickly diagnose controller interface design errors; and
  • Display signals in real time, for seamless real-time plotting.
A screenshot of the Caplex GUI.

In addition to making the GUI universal, with the latest Q2 2020 release, the Humotech team gave the control system lots of extra TLC, including improving data security and the recording stream, and simplifying software interfaces between various components of the control system (among many other updates).

“Dude, where’s my data?”

With new traceability and reliability features, controller data stays safe from being overwritten. Before starting a recording of testing with the Ankle-Foot Prosthesis, for example, the GUI checks for any data in danger of being overwritten and stops if it finds any. Even if the GUI is somehow interrupted before you have a chance to fetch the data, the new feature makes sure that you retrieve the data before it records new data in its place. 

What’s more, additional info is packed into the data so it’s easy to identify. Easily trace the data to the system and configuration that produced it — because what good is data if you can’t find it later?

A better I/O Unit Interface.

Now users don’t have to struggle with trying to keep a rat’s nest of wires straight between the wearable device and the I/O unit. Humotech’s new I/O Unit software interface untangles the signal identification process. Users no longer need to reference online help documentation to figure out which wire connected to which load cell. New sub-programming does all the connecting for you, straight from the I/O unit. For example, end-effector 5 on your I/O unit is end-effector 5 in the controller block. Basically, what you see is what you get.

A step into the future.

Essentially, the flexible GUI and new Q2 updates means that development can be fast-tracked. Users are able to focus on their unique research questions and bigger-picture challenges, rather than labor-intensive interfaces. 

Simplifying the research process is a key part of what drives Humotech to continuously innovate and improve its products.

“We’re trying to enable our customers to focus on the meaty research problems, and not get bogged down in the practical engineering problems,” says Josh Caputo, Humotech founder and CEO.

In the nascent world of wearable assistive device technology, that’s a critical piece of the puzzle needed to move the industry forward.

Want a list of all of the upgrades? 

If you’re a customer, check out the full release notes here. If you’ve got an active service contract, all you need to do is schedule your upgrade today!  

If your contract is expired or you’re not a Humotech customer but you want to learn more, please reach out to Gabriel our Director of Sales and Customer Relations.

A Note from Humotech: Thanks to Kota Takahashi and Philippe Malcolm and their teams at UNO for detailed feedback that helped inform the new Caplex GUI design, and to Greg Sawicki and his team at Georgia Tech for their help in beta testing!

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