One of the most anticipated devices for the blind is probably a wearable camera capable of translating the captured scene text into an alternative representation such as speech. However, finding signboards and capturing the text images in a form suitable for character recognition is difficult for the blind. We propose a framework of reading assistant device with a scene text locator that shows the text location by sound signals. By using a pair of base/offset notes, the accuracy of text localization has become much higher compared with our previous system.
Although Text-to-Speech (TtS) is considered a mature technology capable to produce synthetic speech of very high quality, current TtS systems do not include effective acoustic provision of the semantics and the cognitive aspects of the visual (such as the typographic cues) and non-visual (such as the logical structure) knowledge embedded in the rich text documents. In this paper, after the introduction of an appropriate document architecture, we analyze the semantics of the document signals. Then, by following a Design-for-All methodology, we present the Document-to-Audio approach we have developed for the automatics rendering document signals from the typographic, logical and the layout layers to the auditory modality.
The main goal of Electronic Travel Aids is to detect obstacles and provide information to help visually impaired people safely navigate the surroundings. To achieve an efficient ETA design, the properties of the integrated sensors need to be considered for their suitability. This paper investigates the characteristics of two types of proximity sensors for this purpose. The transfer functions of an infrared and an ultrasonic sensor were determined. For the latter, we also examined the detection threshold for different obstacle distances, and reconstructed the beam shape in 3D. For the ultrasonic sensor, a width detection threshold of 12 mm was found for a distance of 3 m, with an important increase beyond 3 m. These characteristics provide insights into the suitability of two low-cost proximity sensors for ETAs.
This paper presents a biologically-inspired algorithm that models any potential hearing loss given by binaural audiograms. It is used as a pre-processor for audio signals, enabling an otologically normal person, i.e. a person with normal hearing, to perceive sounds, music, or speech similar to a person with a sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), given by the respective auditory threshold function or audiogram. The pre-processing engine is used as a start-up to create virtual ‘test persons’ or virtual hearing-impaired (HI) listeners for initial field tests to improve the quality of hearing in modern digital hearing-aids (DHA). After a newly developed DSP algorithms for a DHA shows significant improvement in specific sound perception with the VHL, this algorithm will be tested by hearing-impaired persons. This paper also presents a set of prototype results employing the VHL in masking tests to detect auditory threshold functions in the Freiburg Number Test.
To study the compliance with a physical activity monitoring and feedback intervention, as implemented for balancing daily physical activity in patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome. The intervention was implemented into an existing rehabilitation program for treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Feedback was provided at home with a personal digital assistant during four consecutive feedback periods. Compliance with the feedback system was around 90% during each of the four feedback periods. Fifteen patients (50%) complied with all four feedback periods. The fifteen compliers changed their physical activity level significantly into the direction of the goal, especially in the morning and afternoon. Changes in physical activity were seen instantaneously from the first feedback day on. Patients were able to change their daily physical activity into the direction of the goal. The compliance with all four feedback periods was low and might be related to the instantaneous effect of the feedback.
In this paper, we present the sensor-based telemonitoring and home support system currently under development in the BackHome project. The proposed system is aimed at supporting and assisting Brain/Neuronal Computer Interaction users by providing intelligent techniques to give both physical and social support, the final goal being to improve quality of life of users.
The demographic development implies that the number of older persons with care needs is increasing while it will be more difficult to recruit staff to the elderly care. In the gap arising there is a belief that welfare technology can play an important role saving time for tasks that demands human hands. The welfare technology used in this study showed that the cost could be reduced for the municipality and benefits the users. Supervision with a web camera showed to be a good complement to physical visits. Users, significant others and the staff were all positive in terms of satisfaction, sleeping quality and safety aspects.
Relatively inexpensive remote tele-video technology offers a practical alternative to traditional in-home rehabilitation. This paper describes three studies of “hands-on” AT skills training delivered via in-home and remote tele-video technologies. Study 1 was a randomized clinical trial that demonstrated a significant change in self-efficacy (F=6.32, P=.015) in the intervention group that received a comprehensive intervention compared to a control group of mobility impaired adults, and secondarily that interventions delivered by remote tele-technology was as effective as on-site in the home. Study 2 was a pilot study of 32 caregivers (17 intervention) and (15 control) that adapted Study 1 protocols and methods to deliver an intervention targeting care dyads and to obtain data on preliminary effect sizes to power Study 3. In this study, intervention group was related to change in satisfaction with assistance skills for two of the four tasks, getting in and out of bed, (χ2= 6.9, p=.032) and toileting (χ2=7.7, p=.020). Study 3 will implement the Study 2 protocol as both in-home and tele-videoconferencing modalities. The study is expected to result in a more efficacious AT service delivery that will improve both caregiving and care recipient outcomes.
Telerehabilitation is a growing alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy to meet the demand in the rehabilitation field. However, because teleheath care is mostly deployed between two health care establishments, patients still need to travel to clinics to receive their treatments. To solve this specific problem, telehealth provided directly at home is an innovative solution. Because of both technological and clinical challenges surrounding in-home telehealth, the platform used must be in constant evolution. This ensures a high quality and an efficient way for rehabilitation delivery. The aim of this presentation is to present the telerehabilitation platform designed and built by our research team, “Équipe Spécialisée en TéléRéadaptation À Domicile” (ESTRAD). Based on a modular design, the generic platform integrates commercial systems and peripherals with custom software, TeRA. In addition to the video and audio components, other components are launched by TeRA (e.g. oximeter, stationary bike, speech therapy software) depending on the clinical applications. Until now, the platform has been used successfully to treat different rehabilitation populations (e.g. orthopedics, pulmonary and neurologic). ESTRAD is already working on the next generation of the platform in order to reduce its cost by using a less expensive videoconferencing solution and to provide further capabilities.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the satisfaction of patients and physiotherapists toward technology used during in-home teletreatment following discharge from an acute care hospital after a stroke. The teletreatment that was delivered to the patients consisted of 45-minute sessions of exercises inspired from Tai Chi movements, twice a week, over a period of 8 weeks. The health care services satisfaction questionnaire was completed by the patients at the end of the intervention. The subjective appreciation of the technical quality of the physiotherapist using the technology during the telerehabilitation treatment was noted at the end of each treatment session. The analyses for this pilot study have thus been completed on a total of 6 patients and over 96 sessions by a physiotherapist. Satisfaction towards health care services provided was high for both patients (86%) and physiotherapists (90%). While patient satisfaction is very important in maintaining treatment compliance, the satisfaction of health care professionals must be high in order for new treatments to become mainstream in clinics. Our results show that in-home telerehabilitation seems to be a promising alternative to traditional face-to-face treatments.
This study aims at defining and evaluating new monitoring-based services where telecare and smart home approaches are combined to support the well-being of the aging population. The evaluation was carried out by means of envisioning scenarios discussed with older adults and telecare operators. The basic assumption of the envisaged service was to increase the efficiency of the actual telecare service by providing the telecare operators with a detailed profile of the telecare users built on the automatic collection of data in their home. Results of the evaluation showed that such a system would be appreciated by telecare operators, but acceptance considerations should be taken into account in order to meet also the older adults' consensus. We finally discuss specific factors that can be implemented in order to improve the quality of traditional telecare services respecting both older adults' domestic environment and telecare operators' work practices.
The objective of this qualitative case study is to explore home care patients' perceptions of a videoconference system as part of their home care. The study also aims to examine how the possibility to form a video connection with nursing staff affects home care patients' feelings of loneliness and security. Seven home care patients' perceptions of the used videoconference system were surveyed using semi-structured interviews with themes based on technology acceptance literature. The gathered research material was analyzed thematically. The study is part of a larger KOVI project. The interviewed home care patients felt they had a natural conversation through the videoconference device. The individuals' views of the usefulness of videoconference technology seemed to be an essential factor in the acceptance and use of technology. The use of the videoconference device was not considered particularly challenging, so the ease of the use of technology and learning to use the device were not considered a major challenge, not even for the elderly. The customers were worried about the privacy because of the installed cameras, but considered the safety the system brings more important. The lack of previous knowledge concerning technology, however, was noted in situations that deviated from common usage of the equipment. Guidance and instructions in difficult situations and maintenance of the device were deemed important.
This paper addresses the use of GPS-tracking devices in dementia care in a Norwegian context. The paper is based on empirical data drawn from two sources: the “EFORTT” project and the ongoing “Safe Tracks” research project. The results show that the use of GPS-tracking has important implications for the actors involved. Both the persons with dementia and family carers report on improved safety and increased independence. These findings are in accordance with the expectations expressed in current policy documents, which opens up for increased use of GPS and other telecare technologies in a dementia care setting. The focus of this paper is on the key role of family carers in relation to the implementation of the GPS-tracking device. The research findings show that in order to make the new technologies work, family carers are assigned new tasks and responsibilities. The critical issue raised in this paper is that many family carers do not have the necessary capacity, skills and competencies needed in order to take on these tasks. And in addition, not all persons suffering from dementia have someone to do the tasks for them. In this is the acknowledgement that the introduction of GPS-tracking devices in dementia care is not a trivial matter, which calls for a more nuanced understanding of the challenges posed by the introduction of new technologies to dementia care.
The study “Trygge spor” is exploring the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to locate persons with dementia. The overall objectives have been to assess the deployment of technology and services facilitating safety and security for people with dementia, family caregivers and professional caregivers. 55 persons with dementia and their caregivers participated in the impact study, and have been using GPS when performing outdoor activities as part of their daily activities during the evaluation period of eleven months. A commercially available GPS was provided to the participants. This paper describes the study design and discusses the findings with reference to persons with dementia and their caregivers. The study reveals that using GPS for locating persons with dementia provided increased safety for all stakeholders, including persons with dementia, family caregivers and professional caregivers. Persons with dementia might maintain their autonomy and continuing their outdoor activities despite the progression of the disease and they could enjoy their freedom. A precondition for successful implementation of GPS locating persons with dementia is to properly assess the user needs, identify appropriate technical solutions and discuss the ethical dilemmas in order to select the least intrusive intervention. Furthermore it was experienced that collaboration between persons with dementia, family caregivers and professional caregivers are important for successful implementation of GPS for locating persons with dementia. It is advisable to further include persons with dementia and their caregivers in the process of developing appropriate devices and services for persons with dementia. More research is needed in order to evaluate the long term impacts and how to implement technology and services for locating persons with dementia as part of the regular services provided by public health care providers.
Literature on usability practice suggests that, despite recommendations for user research and usability testing with younger or older adults being similar, practitioners working with older adults as a target audience should take special care in following the recommendations. Nevertheless, there are not many studies describing the experience of practitioners with this particular audience. Our study shares the findings obtained from semi-structured interviews with six young practitioners who have had all their practical experience with no other group beyond the older adult population. The analysis to the insights of these young practitioners 1) shows that they have learned through their own experience what are written in the literature as recommendations and guidelines, 2) confirm existing guidelines and 3) might potentially contribute to existing best practices in user research and usability testing with older adults.
Effective user participation during the creation of new assistive products can help to identify design criteria which may not be otherwise evident to product developers. This paper describes the formulation of a series of participatory design workshops which are currently underway in the Republic of Ireland. It focuses on the development of a plan to both foster participant empowerment while generating actionable results, along with the activities, games and structure that constituted the primary workshop. The need for flexible methods and challenges regarding recruitment and communication are also discussed.
The initiative described in this paper explores how the concept of ‘design thinking’ can be introduced to people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) as a route to improved independence, resourcefulness and personal control. The underpinning premise of the study is that design thinking offers a kind of resourcefulness and the ability to think laterally about problems.
The overall aim of this study was to investigate what design thinking might offer to people living with a spinal cord injury. In a controlled healthcare environment design thinking strategies were introduced as a way of supporting self-efficacy and cognition of perceived manageability, which has been shown to be positively associated with constructive health behaviour and adjustment to life changes, including a spinal cord injury (Bandura, 2004. Cicerone, Azulay, 2007. Dohnke, et al, 2007. Hampton, 2004).
Potential intended outcomes were driven by the ideas that by introducing the concept of design thinking to people with SCI it would help build self-efficacy and offer people the confidence to make positive changes in the context of their own lives, experience and self-esteem. Two of the main factors in developing self-efficacy being experience in overcoming obstacles and persevering to obtain a goal, and observing peers succeed in a similar way (Bandura, 2004. Dohnke, et al, 2007).
This paper presents work undertaken by the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University as part of a project relating to Design & Rehabilitation, an initiative instigated and co-ordinated by the Royal Society of Art (RSA).
Aim: this paper aims to briefly describe some current approaches to participative research and technological development with people with disability in the Republic of Ireland (Roi).
Methods: Two aspects of a shared approach are used to highlight lessons learnt from participative research and development.
Findings: Ethical issues that emerge with research and development are highlighted. It also demonstrates the potential for service user empowerment, arising out of participative approaches.
Discussion: Issues arising from service user participation in research reveal it to be a powerful tool for sharing a vision across both disability and mainstream education and employment services in the ROI. Future research is required in the area, in addition to local and national guidelines to foster more extensive educational/community participatory research ventures. Funding support for expert AT Users, for community partners and an increased recognition for non-traditional research is also required.
The purpose of this study was to answer the question what influences consumer satisfaction and how satisfaction is associated with use or non-use of the Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO). For this goal an specially designed “Design in Orthopaedic Engineering Questionnaire for Usability Evaluation of Orthoses” (DOE-quest) was used to answer whether the results of a subjective device evaluation correlates with or rules out the person's expectations of this device. The questionnaire was sent to 500 AFO users (consumers), randomly selected by choosing an AFO user name every 10 subsequent names from the database of five participating Prosthetics and Orthotics companies, (P&O). The five P&O companies were selected from all over the Netherlands. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the consumer characteristics. Chi-square tests were used to describe the association between safety, durability, ease of use, comfort and effectiveness and variables of process satisfaction (delivery, maintenance, professionalism, delivery follow up, services in general).T- tests were performed to indicate whether variables met the Pareto principle. To determine the strength of linear dependence between satisfaction on the one hand and health related characteristics and AFO use on the other hand, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated. In total 123 males and 87 females, a 44% response rate, who have a prescribed AFO for three months or longer completed the questionnaire. The distribution in types of orthosis was in favour of custom made, 85.1% and 14.9% off the shelf. EQ-5D scores (N=190) were between 0 and 1 (M= .71; SD= .22) reflecting a representative group of the whole range of the client population with light to severe health problems. Diagnoses leading to the AFO prescription were widespread. In general, 74.8% of prescribed OD's were considered satisfactory. Some personal characteristics appeared to be of great importance to AFO satisfaction and use. The delivery process was the only variable that met the 80% Pareto principle on all personal characteristics. In general, orthosis safety and comfort did not meet the Pareto principle of satisfaction. Females were less satisfied on orthosis comfort (p= .0001) and professionalism (p= .012) compared to males. Innovative insights were gained related to off the shelf and custom made orthosis. The numerous additional comments made in the questionnaire indicate that improvements in AFO design and evaluation process start with a better evaluation and check of the fitting and comfort of the AFO. If the fitting and comfort of the AFO is optimal, the use of the AFO can be expected to be highly frequent as well. The results of this study can be used to pinpoint aspects which are important in the design process of OD's: -Standard AFO evaluation after a week, three months and a year follow up, -More attention in training new prosthetic and orthotic staff regarding the evaluation process in enlarging awareness of the importance in querying the consumer.
This paper describes a formative evaluation conducted during the Knoffit software project with people with intellectual and cognitive impairments. Within the project, a User Centered Design is not only used as research method but it is also connected to be the project's central aim: People with intellectual and cognitive disabilities as the main future users of the software are included in the project as testers for evaluating the currently available software prototype. Based on their feedback on the prototype the software will be re-designed and again tested iteratively. In addition to the evaluation description the paper presents gained results.
How people use assistive technologies depends on how they relate to them. As technologies such as assistive robots are developed—that have a physical presence, some autonomy, and the ability to adapt and communicate—the relationships that people have with them will become more complex and may take on some of the characteristics of the social relationships that we have with each other. In this paper, we compare the relationships that people form with assistive devices to the bonds we develop with people, pets, and objects. Building on conceptual frameworks provided by social psychology we aim to develop a taxonomy that can provide a consistent framework with which to describe and analyse human-other relationships, hopefully leading to improved design of assistive technologies.
The concept of frontiers as a way to complement the research on user needs and preferences with context-aware capabilities is presented. A frontier is then the fringe of space between two access modes. Several components were implemented in an Android testbed to check the usefulness of the concept in the selection of Assistive Technology enriched with environmental and device related information, that in the coarse grain are able to suggest a change in the access mode that improve the users' performance on their tasks using a smartphone.