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Request for Help – Lincoln – Alarm trigger for paralysed client

  • Ian D Midgley
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The following urgent request for help, in making something to activate a call button, has been received from Ray Wyborn on the Lincoln panel.

“Today I visited a lady in Skegness with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. She is confined to bed at the moment until a special wheelchair is delivered. Her condition means she cannot move apart from her eyes and her distorted right hand which she can only lift about two inches with difficulty. She cannot move her fingers or clench her fist which precludes her activating the call button. She is able to blow and speak in a whisper. Her hands and arms are distorted and fixed across her chest. Can anyone think of a way for us to help her. I am completely stumped. My thought was for her to activate a switch by blowing but she cannot move her head to access a tube. Any fixed device attached to her right hand would be in danger of being pressed accidentally. The only other avenue I can think of would be a throat mic but I don’t have the knowledge or expertise to make anything suitable. Any devise would need to be transferable to a wheelchair. At the moment it seems as though the problem is insurmountable. HELP!  Would it be possible to circulate this to all groups as it is urgent that we quickly come up with a device to help her.”

Possible solutions would include an eye tracker (was the Southampton panel looking at this last year?)

http://code.google.com/p/experteyes/

http://www.i-cherubini.it/mauro/blog/2009/04/30/open-source-eye-tracker/

http://thirtysixthspan.com/openEyes/software.html

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/opengazer/

These use a cheap webcam with the IR filter removed to track the eye position.  Most are head mounted but for a client who has no head movement an “off body” mount is quite practical.  Using an eye tracker also has the great advantage that the system can also give far greater communication capability than just a simple alarm by putting a communications board on a computer screen and using the eye tracker to move a marker from letter to letter.

This is an example of one home made system working :-

“This is an human-computer interface wich I built in my garage using an amplifier, an AD converter and a Visual Basic software wrote by me. Total cost of the device was about €110, very less than other commercial HCIs. This interface is meant to be used by people with severe movement impairment, with only eye-movement spared. In the video, I wrote the word "PROVA" (the italian for "try this") using only my eye movement. To move the cursor, look for a little time in the desired direction, to select a letter, the user has to double-blink (yes! like a double-click). For further information contact me at davz77@tin.it

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