Switchmate – smart made simple.
While being able to dim your lights, lock your doors, and adjust the thermostat using voice commands or a simple interface on your smartphone may seem like convenient novelties to some, for disabled individuals these can be essential to maintaining a safe, healthy, enjoyable home life. For example, a quadriplegic who cannot physically open their front door could speak into their smartphone and the door would automatically open. They could also create a variety of profiles that change the lighting and turn on specific devices once they’ve entered the house, making possible what otherwise would have required a caregiver’s constant assistance.
As another example, a person with little to no vision could use appliances throughout their home with greater ease, and a deaf person could receive security alerts about disturbances they might not have noticed on their own. And while these are helpful for people who are disabled, there is no need to be completely cut off from outside assistance as these devices can also be used to alert caregivers and family members of any issues that may need their attention.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: The Potential of IoT Technologies for People with Disabilities
Controlling your PC with only your eyes is something that’s set to be possible much sooner than you probably think. According to the Windows blog, the technology will be available in the latest Windows 10 Preview Build (162570).
The technology comes from a partnership with Tobii, a Swedish company that specifically develops eye control technology. The tech will be accessible within the preview build as ‘Eye Control’ and will use the computer’s camera to recognize exactly where the user is looking.
However, this technology will not work with all laptops, unless you use Tobii’s own Eye Tracker 4C, the first camera that supports Eye Control. After activating Eye Control on a supporting laptop it will execute a launchpad that appears on the screen and lets users make their eyes a cursor, giving them the ability to navigate an on-screen keyboard — with US layout only — activate text-to-speech and change the UI elements.
Eye Control can also perform keyboard functions with swipe-like typing. To type a word stare at the first and last letter and then glance at all of the letters in between. The system will then attempt to guess the word, providing four choices in case the first choice was wrong.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read more at MobileSyrup.com: The ability to control Windows 10 with your eyes is coming soon
User Experience (UX) is critical to the success or failure of a product in the market but what do we mean by UX? All too often UX is confused with usability which describes to some extent how easy a product is to use and it is true that UX as a discipline began with usability – however, UX has grown to accommodate rather more than usability and it is important to pay attention to all facets of the user experience in order to deliver successful products to market.
There are 7 factors that describe user experience, according to Peter Morville a pioneer in the UX field who was written several best-selling books and advises many Fortune 500 companies on UX:
Let’s take a look at each factor in turn and what it means for the overall user experience:
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: The 7 Factors that Influence User Experience | Interaction Design Foundation
The year 2016 saw an increase in focus on accessibility features to allow people with disabilities to access technology. The Microsoft Event that saw the launch of the Surface Studio on October 26, and the Apple event a day later on October 27 which saw the launch of the new Macbook Pro laptops, both opened with a video showcasing the efforts by the two companies at making their products more universally accessible. Earlier in the year, during the Facebook F8 conference, Facebook demonstrated a a new API with features for making user interfaces built using the React library more accessible to visually impaired users.
For the visually impaired, touchscreens are scary because they are devices where all controls defer to the screen. Nirmita Narasimhan, a Policy Director at The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) in Bengaluru has contributed to policy decisions by the Indian Government to help the visually impaired better use technology. One of these measures was allowing the blind to convert ebooks to any format that would allow them to read it. Narasimhan believes that accessibility to new technologies can improve greatly for the visually impaired if major app distributors such as Apple and Google take efforts to make sure the same application works for blind users as well.
Kat Holmes is the former principal director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft. In this episode, we talk about the definition of inclusive design, take an inside look at her “special ops” design unit, and dive into the best method for deploying human-centered design.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Former Microsoft design director on shaping Hololens, Xbox and Cortana with inclusive design thinking | TechCrunch
‘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.
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?
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.”
Many systems showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are aimed at improving quality of life for people with disabilities.
BrainRobotics, a Massachusetts-based startup, showed its prosthesis that can be controlled by residual muscle strength of an amputee with better efficiency than similar devices, according to developers.
Over time the group wants to use technology from its sister company BrainCo to harness brain waves for improved function. BrainCo already markets a headband which helps identify patterns of brain waves to help improve focus and treat children with learning disabilities.
Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Emerging tech aims to improve life for handicapped
curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: New cards extend banking options for vision-impaired customers