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Claire  Davies  - Queen's University . Kingston, ON, CA

Claire Davies

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Mechanical and Materials Engineering | Queen's University

Kingston, ON, CANADA

My primary research goal focuses on increasing independence of people with disabilities





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My interest in biomedical engineering evolved while volunteering at Bloorview Children’s Hospital (now Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital). I found that the technology available to these children did not allow them the freedom of other children. I have since dedicated my research career to improving the lives of people with disabilities. My research is diverse covering three main areas: biomaterials, motion analysis and assistive technology.

My primary research goal focuses on increasing independence of people with disabilities. Understanding the perceptual and physical responses of the senses, primarily vision, haptics and sound, has given me insight into how design of devices should be undertaken to create human-machine interfaces that are easily navigated and accepted. After spending several years designing to meet the needs of specific clients, I have realised the need for universal design. Universal design is becoming increasingly popular such that devices should be easy to use by all people without the need for adaptation.

I am currently an assistant professor in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Queen’s University with an honorary senior lecturer appointment in the Departments of Surgery and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland. Most of my work is interdisciplinary and seeks to combine input from both clinicians and engineers in the design of medical technologies. Some of the student projects of which I am the primary supervisor include development of a system that will allow tailored reminiscence therapy for individuals with cognitive impairment, development of a boccia ramp for paralympic athletes, development of an umbrella for individuals with muscular dystrophy, and methods to simplify computer tasks for youth with cerebral palsy.

I continue to expand my areas of research to establish more evidence based evaluations of individuals with assistive technology. Improvements to prosthetic and orthotic design will allow increased efficiency of human movement. Increasing the universality of assistive technology will enable more effective use of devices. Interface design that provides ease of use is essential to the acceptance by all individuals. My research projects allow engineering students to engage with clinicians and complete design projects that are clinically relevant. Expanding this research can increase the productiveness of all individuals and allow them to become more confident members of our society.

Areas of Expertise (6)


Motion Analysis

Assistive Technology

Increasing Independence of People with Disabilities

Universal Design

Materials Engineering

Accomplishments (5)

Emerging Researcher Award

2014 Auckland University Engineers Association

National AMP Scholarship


Advice First Innovator’s Award


Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust Grant


Auckland Medical Research Foundation Conference Travel Grant


Education (5)

University of Auckland, Department of Surgery: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship 2010

University of Waterloo: Ph.D., Systems Design Engineering 2008

University of Waterloo: Graduate Certificate, University Teaching 2005

University of Calgary: M.Sc., Biomedical Engineering 1999

Queen's University: B.A.Sc., Materials and Metallurgical Engineering 1997

Affiliations (4)

  • Professional Engineers Ontario : Licensed Member
  • American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine : Member
  • Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine : Member
  • Cerebral Palsy Society : Member

Media Appearances (5)

Davies: Online testing set Ontario students up to fail

Ottawa Citizen  


Last week we set up Grade 10 students across the province for failure. We used them as guinea pigs to test a deeply flawed online system that already has a history of letting us down. The Ontario Secondary Schools Literacy Test has always been a pen-and-paper affair. This year, for the first time, 100,000 young people would trial the test online...

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Mind control. Harnessing brain waves to move objects on a screen

CBC Ontario Morning with Wei Che  


CBC Ontario Morning with Wei Che

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Ultrasound device to help visually impaired navigate

Our Changing World, Radio New Zealand with Ruth Beran  


“A signal is sent out at ultrasound, through a transmitter that the person can hold in their hand. Reflections from the environment come back to the individual and can be picked up with receivers,” says Claire Davies, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland. “Those receivers can actually convert the sound into an audible range signal, so users can actually hear the obstacles around them.”...

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Dolphin technique gives blind new view of world

NZ Weekend Herald  


It is the brainchild of Auckland University senior lecturer Dr Claire Davies and her husband, Manukau Institute of Technology head of engineering Dr Shane Pinder...

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Inventor’s vision

East and Bays Courier  


East and Bays Courier, October 25 2013

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Event Appearances (5)

Expansion Cursor: A Zoom Lens that can be Voluntarily Activated by the User at Every Individual Click

Proceedings of the 28 th Australia Conference on Human Computer Interaction  Australia


The Effect of Surface Electromyography Placement on Muscle Activation Amplitudes and Timing

IEEE EMBS International Student Conference  Ottawa, ON.


The Ethical and Practical Issues Surrounding the Design of Assistive Technology for Individuals with Severe Physical Disability and Complex Communication Needs

Proceedings of the 28 th Australia Conference on Human Computer Interaction  Australia


Repeatability of Eye-Hand Movement Onset Asynchrony Measurements and Cerebral Palsy: A Case Study

Computer Human Interaction New Zealand Conference  Hamilton, ON.


Model based Open-Loop Posture Control of a Parallel Ankle Assessment and Rehabilitation Robot

AIM 2015  Korea


Research Grants (5)

Increasing Independence through access to Technology

NSERC Discovery Grant $175, 000

2016 - 2021 Principal Investigator

The Impact of Emerging Technology on Developing and Accessing Assistive Technology. Principal Investigator

SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant $24,856

2016 - 2017 Principal Investigator

Technology for Health Engineers in Clinical Residence Seed Project Funding. Principal Investigator with Bruce MacDonald

Strategic Research Initiative Fund, University of Auckland $60,000

2015 - 2016 Principal Investigator

Intelligent robotic gait therapy and physiological assessment for children with cerebral palsy.

Cure Kids $56,450

2015 - 2016 Co-investigator

Development of a motion analysis laboratory with a clinical focus

Faculty Capital Expenditure Round – contestable, University of Auckland $166,175

2014 Principal Investigator

Articles (5)

A real-time computational model for estimating kinematics of ankle ligaments

Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering

2016 An accurate assessment of ankle ligament kinematics is crucial in understanding the injury mechanisms and can help to improve the treatment of an injured ankle, especially when used in conjunction with robot-assisted therapy. A number of computational models have been developed and validated for assessing the kinematics of ankle ligaments. However, few of them can do real-time assessment to allow for an input into robotic rehabilitation programs. Method: An ankle computational model was proposed and ...

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Training to use a commercial brain-computer interface as access technology: A case study

Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology

2016 Purpose: This case study describes how an individual with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy was trained over a period of four weeks to use a commercial electroencephalography (EEG)-based brain-computer interface (BCI). Method: The participant spent three sessions exploring the system, and seven sessions playing a game focused on EEG feedback training of left and right arm motor imagery and a customised, training game paradigm was employed. Results: The participant showed improvement in ...

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Optimal Web-Based Survey Design in the Youth Population

Paediatric Rehabilitation Engineering: From Disability to Possibility

2016 Online Web-based surveys are becoming increasingly popular compared to paperand-pen-based surveys when evaluating services or products. This is largely due to reduction in costs, the ease of reaching a geographically diverse population and the ability to analyze and report up-to-the-minute results (Schmidt 1997). Web-based surveys have been used to evaluate education (Layne, DeCristoforo, and McGinty 1999), healthcare (Grant et al. 2010) and public opinion (Angus Reid Global Monitor) and have proven very effective at ...

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A Robot-Driven Computational Model for Estimating Passive Ankle Torque With Subject-Specific Adaptation

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering

2016 Robot-assisted ankle assessment could potentially be conducted using sensor-based and model-based methods. Existing ankle rehabilitation robots usually use torquemeters and multiaxis load cells for measuring joint dynamics. These measurements are accurate, but the contribution as a result of muscles and ligaments is not taken into account. Some computational ankle models have been developed to evaluate ligament strain and joint torque. These models do not include muscles and, thus, are not suitable ...

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A Nonlinear model for mouse pointing task movement time analysis based on both system and human effects

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering

2015 This paper provides a detailed model for analyzing movement time performance during rapid goal-directed pointand-click motions with a computer mouse. Twelve typically developed individuals and eight youths with cerebral palsy conducted point and click computer tasks from which the model was developed. The proposed model is nonlinear and based on both system (target width and movement amplitude) and human effects (erroneous clicks, number of submovements, number of slip-offs, curvature index, and average speed ...

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