Research Projects

Soft-bodied Fidget Toys Exploration

Fidgeting is a natural phenomenon but fidgeting under observation is not. We are working on a suite of tools to allow tracing and interpreting fidgeting behavior in the wild through soft objects with embedded sensors. We use a mixture of custom made and market ready sensors in deformable bodies for more comfortable usage by participants in the wild and in controlled laboratory settings. This data can then be interpreted by therapists, researchers or doctors depending on the usage. I am acting as the hardware lead for the project, developing connections between microcontrollers and sensors. For published information on initial results from the project see the publications below.

Cottrell, P., Grow, A., & Isbister, K. 2018. Soft-bodied Fidget Toys: A Materials Exploration. In Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI '18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 42-48. DOI:

Inverted eletroic glove

Soft-Robot Gloves for Stroke Survivors Fine Motor Skill Rehabilitation

In an attempt to counteract tremors in patient's hands by using piezoresistive plastics along the fingers to help strech and resist counter to the user's tremor. This idea started by looking at the same technology used in counterbalancing tremors in structures like bridges. This project was put on hold after other groups with larger funding pools and better resources took intrest and continued the research.

Cottrell, P., Kurniawan, S., Teoderescu, M. 2016. Personalized intelligent prosthesis for tremor suppression. SIGACCESS Access. Comput. 114 (March 2016), 25-28. DOI:

Live-in ASSistant for Independence and Elder-care (LASSIE)

I helped to develop LASSIE a tele-operated robot with capabilities for vital sign detection. This robot was designed with older people living alone in mind to help determine the condition of the user and what level of emergency services were needed if any after a fall was detected. I helped retool an FFT algorithm to read heart and breath rates from a low-cost web camera, and extrapolate if these rates were outside of a normal range. I ended my undergraduate career with decent success on the LASSIE robot; we found that our modified algorithm was able to detect a heart rate with a 70% success rate. I also was awarded 1st place in “IT for Society” division of Big Ideas@Berkley competition for the LASSIE project, I Received Dean’s and Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. I also had the opportunity to present our findings at the PETRA 2013 conference in Greece (referenced below).

Hening, S., Cottrell, P., Teoderescu, M., Kurniawan, S. and Mantey, P. 2013. Assistive living robot: a remotely controlled robot for older persons living alone. In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments (PETRA '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, , Article 10 , 4 pages. DOI:

Additional Research

Morales, L. M., Arteaga, S. M., Cottrell, P., & Kurniawan, S. (2014). Design Guidelines of Tools for Facilitating Blind People to Independently Format Their Documents. In Computers Helping People with Special Needs (pp. 634-641). Springer International Publishing.

During the spring of 2014, I spent 3 months conducting interviews and performing paper reviews at Toyota ITC, investigating the use of Robotics in the world of Health Care.


Martinson, E., Cottrell, P. 2017. Gait Analysis Medical Assistance Robot. US Patent App. 15/139,275