The WinterLab can recreate typical Canadian winter conditions - sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice covered surfaces, and winds up to 30 km/hour - within the safety of a controlled laboratory setting. Scientists can study winter slips and falls, and the extremes of cold air and wind, without exposing study participants to the risks these conditions pose in the real world.
To add another dimension to this research, the lab’s motion platform can be tilted to create slopes, or can be moved suddenly to safely upset a subject’s balance, providing scientists an opportunity to test how people and devices respond to such circumstances.
How? Monitored by a motion capture system, study participants are strapped into a body harness connected to an overhead robot that will move with them as they go about their tasks. A pulley mechanism, like a seatbelt, tightens immediately, but gently, to prevent injury in the event of a fall.
The Research: WinterLab will be used for myriad projects, including the development and testing of new winter clothing and footwear and improvements to mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and walkers, so that they perform better on inclined and winter icy and snow-covered surfaces.