Some years ago, Chad Ruble’s mother suffered a stroke and now has aphasia. She hasn’t been able to use a keyboard for years because it is extremely difficult for her to recognize text, due to the stroke. Earning his candidacy for “Son of the Year,” Chad hacked and built a Kinect-enabled interface that allows his mother to move her hand around a series of emoticons (happy, sad, upset, etc.) and other icons to help her compose and send e-mails. Check out the video after the break.
After swiping her hands around the screen a bit, Chad’s mother was finally able to send an email by just using few simple hand motions. Needless to saying, she was beyond ecstatic. This was the process, according to Ruble:
The first step was coming up with a visual “dashboard” to help her compose simple messages. Each icon is associated with a specific emotion, which can then be qualified by an amount. I used a Kinect with the SimpleOpenNI library for Processing along with some gesture recognition code from Matt Richardson to track the position of my mom’s hand. I then used a sample Processing sketch from Daniel Shiffman to generate and send the email by using the green arrow button. The red “X” resets the screen.
Chad Ruble summarizes his desire to create this Kinect hack, stating that:
My mom has lived with aphasia ever since she suffered a serious stroke twelve years ago. In the meantime, there’s been a revolution in communication – powered by social media. Like a lot of people, I use the phone less. One of my areas of interest has been bridging the digital “keyboard gap” for people like my mom.
I love reading stories about people using their knowledge of technology to improve and better the lives of people suffering physical handicaps. Technology that improves people’s lives is, by far, THE BEST TECHNOLOGY, and this is one of the best examples of that claim.