A diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is devastating. Outlier cases like [Stephen Hawking] notwithstanding, most ALS patients die within four years or so of their diagnosis, after having endured the progressive loss of muscle control that robs them of their ability to walk, to swallow, and even to speak.
Rather than see a friend’s father locked in by his ALS, [Ricardo Andere de Mello] decided to help out by building a one-finger interface to a [Hawking]-esque voice synthesizer on the cheap. Working mainly with what hardware he had on hand, his system lets his friend’s dad flick a finger to operate off-the-shelf assistive communication software running on a laptop. The sensor is an accelerometer velcroed to a fingertip; when a movement threshold is passed, an Arduino sends the laptop an F12 keypress, which is all that’s needed to operate the software. You can watch it in action in the video after the break.
Hats off to [Ricardo] for pitching in and making a difference without breaking the bank. This isn’t the first expedient speech synthesizer we’ve seen for ALS patients — this one does it just three chips, including voice synthesis. Continue reading “Quick Hack Helps ALS Patient Communicate”
ALS robbed one of [C. Niggel]’s relative’s of the use of their upper body. This effectively imprisoned them in their house; ALS is bad stuff. Unfortunately too, the loss of upper body mobility meant that they couldn’t even use the computer to interact with people and the outside world. However, one day [C. Niggel] noted that the relative’s new electric wheelchair was foot controlled. Could this be adapted to a computer mouse?
He looked up commercial solutions and found them not only prohibitively expensive, but also fraught with proprietary drivers and all sorts of bad design nonsense. With all of the tools out there today there was no reason this couldn’t be quickly prototyped and sent to the relative in need.
He used a combination of conductive thread, neoprene, and velostat to build the pads themselves. The pads were balanced with some adjusting resistors in series. The signals are sent to an Adafruit Feather board which interprets them and converts it to a PS/2 standard.
The first version of the mouse used separate pads glued to a MDF board with contact cement. However this, along with some other initial design flaws, resulted in premature failure of the mouse. [C. Niggel] quickly returned to the lab and produced a new version with more robust construction and mailed it off. So far so good!
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a debilitating disease that eventually causes the afflicted individual to lose all control of their motor functions, while leaving their mental faculties intact. Those suffering from the illness typically live for only a handful of years before succumbing to the disease. On some occasions however, patients can live for long periods after their original diagnosis, and in those cases assistive technology becomes a key component in their lives.
[Alon Bukai and Ofir Benyamin], students at Ort Hermalin Collage in Israel, have been working hard on creating an EEG-controlled smart house for ALS patients under the guidance of their advisor [Amnon Demri]. The core of their project focuses around controlling everyday household items using brainwaves. They use an Emotiv EPOC EEG headset which monitors the user’s brainwaves when focusing on several large buttons displayed on a computer screen. These buttons are mapped to different functions, ranging from turning lights on and off to changing channels on a cable box. When the user focuses on a particular task, the computer analyzes the headset’s output and relays the command to the proper device.
As of right now, the EEG-controlled home is only a project for their degree program, but we hope that their efforts help spur on further advancements in this field of research.
Continue reading to see a pair of videos demonstrating their EEG-controlled smart house in action.
Continue reading “Brainwave-based assistive technology in the home”
Just in time for the influx of sedentary Oprah viewers, [Adam Wilson] built a brain interface that allows you to post Twitter messages. The electrode cap monitors the user’s brain functions to determine where they’re looking. The display slowly flashes each letter in the alphabet. The user focuses on the letter they want and when it flashes the cap can pick up the resulting impulse. It’s a long process and the average user can only do ten characters a minute i.e. 14 minutes to use all 140 characters in a Twitter post. It’s interesting research and shows how far we still need to go with neural interfaces. The researchers note that Twitter’s forced brevity levels the playing field between locked-in patients and normal users. A video of the device in use is available on the NITRO blog.
Related: KanEye tracking system