Microsoft & Trinity College collaborative partnership leads to new technology to aid child development


microsoft and tcd

Trinity College Dublin researchers have developed MotorSense, a motion-based technology to support early functional screening of children’s gross motor skills. The project will be unveiled at the Learnovation summit at Croke Park on October 1.

Motor development is the process by which children acquire movement patterns. Gross motor skills involve both large groups of muscles i.e to stand, walk or run, and hand-eye coordination skills, i.e to throw, catch or kick.

To detect early motor development issues, MotorSense will screen children while they play active games like running, jumping or hopping.

“While children play the games, their skeleton will be observed on a screen, and MotorSense will detect their motions and see if they are completing the tasks according to their development stage,” explained MotorSense researcher, Dr Benoit Bossavit.

The MotorSense team hopes that this will “speed up the early detection and intervention for children with motor skills issues”. The earlier motor development delays are identified, the earlier professional help can be sought.

“Formal assessment tools are used by professionals to determine whether children’s motor skills are developing according to their age and developmental stage,” said Dr Bossavit.

“Assessment is done on a one-to-one basis and normally involves professionals observing children performing loco-motor tasks, which is costly and relies on sufficient availability of professionals. This compromises early-detection and delays timely intervention.”

Research was carried out by Dr Bossavit, Prof. Inmaculada Arnedillo-Sanchez, principal investigator, TCD and Dr Kevin Marshall, head of education for Microsoft Ireland.

The research is a collaboration between Microsoft Ireland, the TCD School of Computer Science & Statistics and its Learnovate Centre.

MotorSense is funded by Career-FIT; a trans-national scheme co-funded by Enterprise Ireland and the European Union.