Baylor Researcher Receives NSF Grant to Study Gesture-Based Interaction for Users with Chronic Pain

September 14, 2015
Michael Poor

Michael Poor courtesy photo.

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Media contact: Eric Eckert, (254) 710-1964
WACO, Texas (Sept. 14, 2015) –Michael Poor, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science in Baylor University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science has received a $158,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund his research on the exploration of gestural interaction usage for users with chronic pain-related diseases and conditions.

“Until recently, gesture interaction has remained quite specialized,” Poor said. “As gesture-based interaction hits the mainstream consumer market with hardware such as Xbox Kinect and the Leap Motion, designers of gesture-based interaction will need to take into account the limitations of a broader range of users, including those suffering with CPD.”

Touchless gestural interaction is one area of computer interaction that relies heavily on a user’s ability to move and interact. While some estimate that up to 55 percent of the general population suffers from some form of chronic pain, especially in the joints, it is necessary for designers of gesture-based hardware to take into account the physical constraints that could make gestural interaction a difficult and potentially painful experience.

“As computer scientists, we are tasked with solving problems, and we have to take into account the end user,” said Greg Speegle, Ph.D., chair of the department of computer science at Baylor. “While the specific purpose of Dr. Poor’s research is to define a gesture paradigm that will provide better interaction for users suffering with CPD, his findings also will be applicable to numerous other interaction styles such as augmented and virtual reality, touch and standard graphical user interfaces.”

Through his research, Poor hopes to provide software engineers with the necessary framework to help alleviate potential physical issues for general gesture usage and lessen the chance of user’s developing future physical issues.

by Bethany Harper , student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


With more than 10 percent of Baylor University’s freshman class pursuing major courses of study in the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), the focus remains on preparing graduates for professional practice and responsible leadership with a Christian world view. ECS majors include bioinformatics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, general engineering, and mechanical engineering. Among ECS graduate programs are Master of Science degrees in all disciplines, a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering, a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and several dual degree programs. The Teal Residential College, in which engineering and computer science students and faculty live, fosters the pursuit of wisdom, academic excellence, and meaningful relationships for the development of diverse, innovative leaders.