We all are familiar with our all time favorite game- Tic- Tac- Toe also known as noughts and crosses (Xs and Os)- a paper and pencil game for two players.

Well, now it’s not just limited to paper and pencil. Rather it has become quite automated.

In Israel, researchers at Ben- Gurion University of the Nagev state are coming up with a tic-tac-toe game come alive to help patients with their rehabilitation exercises.

The game is played on a grid of boxes and comprises of embodied and non-embodied play. For the former, a robotic arm is being used that will grab and place a marker, for instance, a small cup. The system uses Kinova arm, which is a Canadian company that designs and manufactures robotic solutions worldwide.

The cups form a part of the rehabilitation process and help users learn and grasp and operate objects after an illness or accident.

Dr. Shelly Levy Tzedek stated “Playing Tic-Tac-Toe whit a set of cups (instead of X’s AND O’s) is one example of a game that can help rehabilitate upper limb”. She also adds- “A person can pick up and place many cups while enjoying a game and improving their performance of a daily task.”

The speed of the robot has an effect on the users, which is intriguing. If the robot arm is fast, it makes users also pace up the game whereas if the robotic arm slows down, they will also perform more slowly. This means that the robotic pace and game both can be modified according to the individual patient and individual needs- as appropriate for the specific rehabilitation regimens.

And since the robot never gets worked up or tired, the rehabilitation staff can pay detailed attention to the minute improvement that they see in the patient while playing the game.

That’s not all. Non-embodied play also exists which includes bright lights that light up to mark the computer’s move spot. So robotic arm or no- robotic arm, the game can still go on.

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