Monthly Archives: May 2017

Emma – a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease

 


The Emma Watch and a special Windows 10 tablet that controls it.

Engraved on the watch is a name – “emma” – in breezy lettering that, to Lawton’s eyes, looks eerily similar to her own handwriting. Impossible, however. She’s been unable to write legibly for years due to hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. Lawton, a graphic designer, was diagnosed with the movement disorder in 2013, destroying her ability to do two things sacred to her: drawing letters and lines.

Those losses inspired Zhang, a Microsoft researcher, to spend months studying Parkinson’s disease while building and testing prototypes that could, she hoped, temporarily short-circuit the hand tremors, allowing Lawton to write her own name again. That’s why the two women now huddle closely in Lawton’s London flat, staring at the only watch of its kind.

“There was a lot hanging in that moment. Would it work?” Lawton recalls later. “I could see she was scared. I felt like I was going to cry. But you always have that little hope that somebody is going to make something that’s going to make your life a little easier.”

Zhang presses a button on the tablet, activating the watch. Lawton puts pen to paper.

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Haiyan Zhang on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

Zhang was born in China. At age 9, she migrated with her parents to Australia where she was the only Asian child in her primary school, an oddity to classmates. As an outsider, the once vocal and confident girl lost her strong voice, and it took a l0ng time to find it again, she wrote in a blog. Eventually, in the world of technology, Zhang soared. She joined Microsoft in 2012, initially leading an innovation team in one of the Xbox gaming studios, excited by the tech potential for new forms of play.

“I was really excited to have someone so clever work on my challenge,” Lawton says. “She’s one of the smartest people I know.”

Lawton was born in Bedfordshire, a county in the east of England. She dreamed of acting but ultimately fell in love with design, pursuing that as a career. By her late 20s, Lawton’s right arm began to have “a mind of its own,” she wrote in her book, “Dropping the P Bomb.” Parkinson’s was the cause. Hand tremors, which Lawton describes as sometimes “going whole hog,” are a primary symptom of her progressive disease – one that affects more than 10 million in the world.

“Emma’s the real inspiration in terms of how she’s managing this condition and succeeding,” Zhang says. “It’s challenging enough being a woman in technology in the workplace. For her to take on this additional challenge, it’s amazing to me.”
As they got to know one another, the question became: Could Zhang’s tech skills help alleviate Lawton’s loss of writing function?

 

Curated by Lifekludger. Source: ‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease – Transform

Airpoly Vision us a Truly Visionary App

Image of Aipoly Vision logo

‘Aipoly Vision’ is a very useful object-and-colour recogniser app that helps the blind, vision-impaired, and colour blind to understand their surroundings. It does so by using artificial intelligence to recognise objects through a device’s camera and then announces the name of each object to the user.

The Aipoly(link is external) developers are on a self-declared mission to build scalable vision intelligence. They intend to add facial recognition to the Aipoly Vision app, whereby users will be able to enter the names of people visible in the camera frame for ongoing recognition. They have also indicated that the app will soon be able to be taught new objects. When pointed at an object which is not recognised, users will be able to enter the name of the object which will be remembered the next time that object is encountered.

This app is an excellent example of how emerging technology can make a positive difference to users right now, and it comes with an ‘intelligent torch’ feature which automatically turns on the device’s torch if the camera frame is too dark, allowing the app to work in low-light situations.

Curated by lifekludger

Read full article at source 

How a Smart Home Empowers People with Disabilities

While advances in personal technology continue at a rapid pace, at times their designers seem to forget about the population that could perhaps benefit from it the most. Stabelfeldt says just the ability to charge a phone with a wheelchair didn’t even exist until a few years ago.

But features like Apple’s “Home” app allow Stabelfeldt to control a variety of smart accessories in his house — from door locks and window shades, to lights and his garage door. The best part for Stabelfeldt? He can command Apple’s intelligent digital assistant Siri to work it all.


A Game Changer
“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure our products are as accessible as possible for all users,” said Apple’s Sarah Herrlinger. She has worked at Apple for nearly 14 years and is their Senior Manager of accessibility policy and initiatives.

“For some people, doing something like turning on your lights or opening a blind or changing your thermostat might be seen as a convenience, but for others, that represents empowerment, and independence, and dignity,” she told NBC News.

“HomeKit and Switch Control and Siri have given me a lot of value and a lot of opportunities to demonstrate that I’m a quality man and I’m a man of integrity,” Todd Stabelfeldt. “To get up every day and go to work: Everybody’s valuable, everybody has worth, everybody should have the opportunity to demonstrate it.”

Liftware Level

lift

Introducing Liftware Level — a new product to help hold a utensil at the angle needed to enjoy any meal. Liftware Level is designed to help people with limited hand and arm mobility, which may be related to cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, Huntington’s disease, or post-stroke deficits, eat more easily.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Liftware Level

JAWS screen reader gets more bight

Image of JAWS screen reader logo

Freedom Scientific has recently released JAWS 18.0.2738, which incorporates several important improvements made between the JAWS February 2017 release and this mid April 2017 update, plus dozens of less revolutionary but very practical enhancements.

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is the world’s most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. It allows blind and vision-impaired people to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display.

The latest update resolved some minor issues within the software itself, as well as providing a long list of user enhancements and expanded features when using JAWS with Microsoft Office, Google Docs, on a variety of Web Browsers, and in Windows 10.

Source: JAWS screen reader gets more bight | Media Access Australia

TED Talks on Designing for Disability

TED Talks on Designing for Disability: TED Talks (technology, entertainment and design) are short presentations delivered to live audiences by subject experts and recorded on video for later viewing online. The Designing for Disability playlist is 10 TED talks on good design, life hacks and smart technology to empower and include people with disability. The videos are free. See: https://www.ted.com/playlists/372/designing_for_disability

Source: Ted