Tag Archives: assistive technology

Brain Scanning Tech Enables Back-and-forth Communication in the Absence of Motor Behavior

Researchers in the Netherlands are developing the first real-time brain scanning speller, a device that can help people who are unable to move or speak take part in unscripted conversations.

The technology builds on earlier uses of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans that made it possible for unconscious or “vegetative” people to answer questions with a yes or no.

“The work of Adrian Owen and colleagues led me to wonder whether it might even become possible to use fMRI, mental tasks, and appropriate experimental designs to freely encode thoughts, letter-by-letter, and therewith enable back-and-forth communication in the absence of motor behavior.”

— Bettina Sorger, Maastricht University

Mind-reading speller “may enable people who are completely unable to speak or move at all to nevertheless manage unscripted back-and-forth conversation.”

The researchers report that their results have substantially extended earlier fMRI uses that allowed individuals to answer multiple-choice questions (four or fewer potential options).

Enabling free-letter spelling, Sorger continues, “…could make all the difference for people who are completely paralyzed and unable to benefit from other means of alternative communication.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/cp-wms062212.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Paralyzed Artist Writes and Paints Again with Help from Open Source Community

When L.A. street artist Tony “Tempt One” Quan was diagnosed with ALS, the disease left him virtually paralyzed. It looked like he would never paint or write again.

What happened next, though, would be practically unbelievable if it were to take place within a work of art. The documentary that tells this story, however, has captivated the minds of all who’ve seen it.

Now, the story of how open-source technology has given Quan a second chance to create is also getting a second chance of sorts before being released more widely.

This film NEEDS to be seen by people.”

— The most common viewer comment after seeing the film

The documentary, Getting Up: The TEMPT ONE Story, which was the recipient of the 2012 Audience Award  at the Slamdance Film Festival, needs some technical upgrading before it is more widely released. The goal behind the project: “Our purpose is to inspire people to see that when a singular individual teams up with a like-minded community, the once impossible becomes possible.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

To get involved and learn more about this inspiring story, check out http://kck.st/KKYsG3

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Cheaper Eye-Tracking Technology Could Support New Applications

Biomedical engineering researchers at the Public University of Navarre (UPNA) are developing a more affordable, more widely usable eye tracking device.

Such devices note where people are looking, and the technology has been used primarily to help people with disabilities (to interact with a computer cursor, for example) and to perform market research (to learn what consumers find attractive).

The idea behind our project is to come up with eye tracking at a low cost, and in such a way that the user can install the software in his or her device and use a webcam for the purpose, without needing additional illuminators or very expensive optical components.”

—Arantxa Villanueva-Larre, head project researcher, UPNA

New possibilities for using eye tracking include incorporating the technology into videogames or driving. For example, drivers whose eyes were not focused forward for a specified period might be alerted by eye-tracking software to pay attention to the road.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-06/ef-urw061412.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.