Innovative control devices for the disabled

Using a computer, telephone or other electronic device is something that seems easy and natural to most of us. Reserved by a margin of the population just a few years ago, computing, now ubiquitous, is now within reach of all ... Indeed, how do disabled drivers? Those who no longer have the use of hands or who are paralyzed have some solutions for the control of their computers or their wheelchairs.

There are the so-called technical sip and puff, to blow or suck on a device for carrying out movements, or devices that measure movements of the head or eyes. All are limited to a small number of commands, are tiring and very expensive. Also research is rife in the area of man-machine interfaces to the disabled and with a view to finding a solution that is both convenient and accessible, two new techniques have recently emerged.

Tongue Drive Technology

Researchers at Georgia Tech University are working on a technology using language and magnets as monitoring device. The language, which is proportionally the most powerful muscle in the human body, has the advantage of being more precise and sensitive while being less prone to fatigue than other muscles involved in other methods of control. This technology uses a tiny magnet 3 mm wide placed under the tongue, two sensors placed on the cheeks and imposing a receiver that analyzes the movements and turns them into signals to an electronic device.

It is already possible to move a wheelchair using this technology and Justin Cochran, the student quadriplegic 26-year-old tested the technology is very promising technology. The researchers plan to add many orders, it is envisaged to transform teeth into a kind of keyboard, which would ultimately control any device. It remains to miniaturise them to their device, to improve the recognition software and maintain an attractive price, between a few hundred dollars a sip and puff and thousands of dollars more complex systems such as monitoring eyes.

Vocal Joystick

Meanwhile Jon Malkin, a graduate of the University of Washington, working on a draft voice control which would supplement the speech recognition technologies that already exist. His recognition software can move the mouse pointer by pronouncing sounds. It is a decision of the ee feet, to move the pointer to the left, but u to click, and so on. The technology is already fully functional.

What greatly improve the lives of disabled! Many testers said they were ready to change their habits for this type of control methods. Researchers in turn are lured by attractive are offered by the National Science Foundation or the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, respectively 120 000 and 150 000 dollars.

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