Tag Archives: smartphones

Musical Glove Helps People with Spinal Injuries

Musical Glove
The Mobile Music Touch “musical glove” has been used successfully by people with sensory limitations in their hands. (Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology)

Researchers at Georgia Tech, working together with Shepherd Center, have developed a wireless device that helps improve sensation and motor skills in people who have experienced a paralyzing spinal cord injury (SCI).

The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) glove was originally intended for use with a piano keyboard. When used in tandem with a computer, MP3 player, or smart phone, the glove vibrates the wearer’s fingers so they know what keys to play.

Equipment used for hand rehabilitation may seem monotonous and boring to some, and doesn’t provide any feedback or incentive. Mobile Music Touch overcomes each of those challenges and provides surprising benefits for people with weakness and sensory loss due to SCI. It’s a great example of how wearable computing can change people’s lives.”

— Thad Starner, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Some users who had experienced spinal cord injuries found the sensation in their fingers improved while they were using the device. Additional research is looking into the users’ experiences with the glove. Ph.D. graduate Tanya Markow, the project’s leader, hopes to expand the study and include functional MRI results.

How is technology changing your life for the better? Seriously — I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/giot-mgi071712.php

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


Smartphones Can “Dramatically Improve” Life Quality for the Visually Impaired

Despite their accessibility features, researchers found that vision doctors had recommended smartphones to only a small percentage of patients.

A study co-authored by a Loyola University ophthalmologist found that although smartphones have great potential for helping the visually impaired, not many vision doctors recommend the devices to their patients.

Smartphones can dramatically improve the quality of life of people with poor vision. Young, visually impaired patients are getting ahead of their doctors.  Low-vision specialists should be getting out in front on this rather than being behind the curve.”

—Dr. Walter M. Jay, Professor of Ophthalmology, Loyola University

Some of the accessibility features available on smartphones that can help the visually impaired include variable font sizes, the ability to make screens brighter, and features like GPS that help people find their way around.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.loyolamedicine.org/News/News_Releases/news_release_detail.cfm?var_news_release_id=973441782

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

Floating, Smartphone-equipped Robots Track Water Flow

Researchers at UC Berkeley are shown retrieving floating robots on the Sacramento River. (Photo: Roy Kaltschmidt, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.)

On May 9th, a hundred floating robots outfitted with smartphones and GPS systems were field tested in the Sacramento River by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The project’s participants hope that similar networks made up of mobile sensors will be available for rapid deployment to make available real-time, high-resolution data about the way pollutants spread, how salmon migrate, or how salt water and fresh water mix, for example.

After being launched in the water, the smartphones provided location data to servers at Berkeley Lab. The data was integrated and processed into a map.

We are putting water online. Monitoring the state’s water supply is critical for the general public, water researchers and government agencies, which now rely upon costly fixed water sensor stations that don’t always generate sufficient data for modeling and prediction. The mobile probes we are using could potentially expand coverage in the Delta — on demand — to hundreds of miles of natural and manmade channels that are currently under-monitored, and help agencies responsible for managing the state’s limited water supply.”

— Alexandre Bayen, associate professor, Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS)

The fleet of robots includes models that are able to dive, measure water quality, and even map the shape of the channels within which they are floating. Possible types of measurements that the floating robots could collect include the speed of water currents, water temperature, salinity, and the presence of specified contaminants.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/05/09/floating-sensors-track-delta-water-flow/

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

Unique Apnea Monitor Prompts Infants to Resume Breathing

The Babalung monitor prompts premature infants with apnea to start breathing again and gives a visual alarm if they don’t. Click image for video.

Five senior bioengineering students at Rice University have created a sensor they hope will help save premature infants in developing countries.

The students created the Babalung Apnea Monitor, a low-cost, battery-operated neonatal monitor for infants, as part of a yearlong project.

Another student team is now developing a smartphone app that will be able to receive the device data.

This team has worked tirelessly to design a useful technology for very-low-resource settings. They sought feedback from physicians who work in those settings and incorporated this advice into their prototype. The unique feature of the device is the system that alerts a baby as an intervention to apnea—all without requiring a nurse to intervene.”

— Maria Oden, director, Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, Rice University

When a sensor connected to the bay’s chest determines the child has stopped breathing for 20 seconds, a vibrating motor attempts to restart the baby’s breathing. Five seconds later, if the baby has not resumed breathing, a visual alarm (a bicycle light hung above the baby’s crib) begins to flash.

Learn more at http://news.rice.edu/2012/04/12/babalung-gets-babies-breathing-again/

Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3xBaa3VN9c

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

Using Smartphones to Track Diseases Trims Time, Costs, Mistakes

stacks-o-paperWorking with the Kenya Ministry of Health, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have demonstrated the potential for smartphone-based questionnaires to replace paper-based ones for gathering information about diseases.

The researchers found that, after initial setup, using smartphones was less costly than paper-based methods, and the data collected using smartphones had fewer errors.

Collecting data using smartphones has improved the quality of our data and given us a faster turnaround time to work with it. It also helped us save on the use of paper and other limited resources.”

— Henry Njuguna, M.D., sentinel surveillance coordinator, CDC Kenya

While some of the survey questions were mandatory, on 5 percent of the paper questionnaires some were omitted; however, only 3 percent of the smartphone surveys were incomplete. Duplicate patient ID numbers appeared in 7 paper-based questionnaires but in none of the smartphone-based surveys.

In addition, unlike the paper-based data, the smartphone data was uploaded to a database within hours rather than weeks.

Explore further at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/asfm-sma030912.php

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

Phone Tech Helping People with Mental Illnesses

Researchers hope to promote further discussion and research into the potential for smartphones in assessing and treating mental health issues.

Smartphone technology is helping psychiatry researchers to find new ways to assess and treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Among the approaches that are being evaluated are using mobile devices to collect patient information and deliver interventions.

We are using the technology that is already in your pocket to create a completely new medium for psychotherapeutic intervention. You can have therapy with you and accessible to you whenever and wherever you have the need, potentially anywhere in the world.”

— Dror Ben-Zeev, assistant professor of psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School

Ben-Zeev hopes that four papers now available online will encourage further discussion and research into the potential role of smartphones and cell phones in mental health services. In tandem with the research, Ben-Zeev is working with community agencies, rehab centers, and with people who are currently receiving clinical services.

Learn more at http://now.dartmouth.edu/author/jblumberg/

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

Smartphone Research Highlights for February 2012

BrailleTouch, which is available for free to smartphone users, lets people text without the need to look at their mobile device.

Scientists worldwide continue to create new applications for smartphone technology. The following summaries highlight research announcements made in the past month related to smartphones.

Future smart phones may project images on the wall. — An improved laser light source for projectors is being developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland together with EpiCrystals Oy and the Aalto University.  The developers plan to integrate the technology into smartphones to “enable accurate and efficient projection of, for example, photographs and movies on any surface.”

Researchers combine mobile phone technology and microscopy. — A microscope accessory that will fit into users’ pockets is also being developed by scientists at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The optical accessory makes it possible for an ordinary camera phone to function as a high-resolution microscope and will be accurate to one hundredth of a millimeter.

Georgia Tech develops Braille-like texting app. — A prototype touch-screen app built by Georgia Tech researchers lets people text without the need to look at their mobile device. The open-source app, called BrailleTouch, is available for free to smartphone users.

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