Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


COMPORTA: new technologies in the service of the disabled

In many cases persons with limited mobility in their upper limbs; those with muscular dystrophy, those suffering from certain nervous and muscular disorders such as cerebral palsy, lose the ability of moving their wrists and arms and, thereby, may have difficulties handling certain devices, such as a computer mouse or keyboard or a TV remote control pad.

In the COMPORTA project, work is being carried out with these people severely disabled in the upper limbs. The aim of the project is to adapt a portable communicator that will have various applications for these persons.

Xmadina Tecnología Adaptativa, S.L.; Eleka Ingeniaritza linguistikoa, S.L.; Robotiker; Minos 97 and the Bidaideak association have all participated in this project.

COMPORTA is based on the use of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant), also known as electronic agendas. Given their small size and weight, they are totally portable and are easy to use anywhere. This is why PDAs are so useful for persons with neurophysical disabilities, and can help with greater personal autonomy; in effect, they enhance one´s quality of life. This is because they can be used to communicate anywhere, listen to music of one´s choice, search the Web or control the television set.

Nevertheless, those with disabilities in the arms and hands may have problems in handling the buttons and tactile screens of the usual PDAs. In order to provide a solution to this, an adaptation has been made of Etsedi, a PC application created for the Xmadina company.

Editing text

Etsedi created a virtual keyboard on the PC screen, reducing the complete virtual keyboard of the commercially available variety to just eight keys. Taking into account that many people with limited mobility are capable of handling the control pad for a wheelchair with great precision and skill, the distribution of the 8 keys has been designed so that they can be selected by means of movements similar to those of these control pads. That is to say, the virtual keys are selected with movements carried out in one plane, in different directions.

The Etsedi application edits texts in Windows. Having a choice of various menus, the user may write numbers, text or special characters. Each virtual key has a set of characters that have been grouped together on the basis of an analysis of combination frequencies, while taking into account that these combinations never occur and, thus, introducing the text is facilitated and optimised. Besides, the application predicts the words that the user wishes to write. As the user keys in a word, the programme automatically comes up with up to 16 possible words around the 8 virtual keys, in such a way that a simple movement can directly select the desired word. The dictionary used by the application for this prediction can be updated and adapted by the user to his or her needs.

The COMPORTA project has adapted this application to PDAs and has developed the same system of prediction for the Basque language. Further, they wish to extend the functions so the device can be used for electronic mail, surfing the Net, and so on.

Giving a voice to the text

People disabled in the upper limbs often have problems in speaking. This is why COMPORTA, by means of a virtual keyboard, adds a voice to the written text. Using voice synthesisers and text-to-speech technology, the text keyed in by the end-user is heard through the speakers

This part of the project has been the task of Eleka Ingeniaritza Linguistikoa and, although applications of this technology exist in other languages, this is the first time in Euskara.

Thus, it will be a bilingual PDA, voice synthesising in both Basque and Spanish, enabling the end-user to use either language. Moreover, different tones of voice are available, the user being able to employ the tone of their choice and which best befits their personality, sex, age, etc.

Remote Control

The PDA can also be useful for controlling various everyday devices. This is why, at COMPORTA, they want the PDA also to be a remote control one for various utilities controlled through the PC. This means the PC would have the software necessary to control the TV, the music centre, the DVD, etc., and the PDA would send the corresponding commands to the PC to control this software.

Wheelchair tuning

So that the PDA is genuinely portable, a support will be designed which will be an articulated arm adaptable to different models of wheelchair and which can also be used to support other items.

The device will have small speakers incorporated which will have sufficient power and quality to be used in noisy environments, such as the street. Current PDAs have inbuilt speakers but they are not very powerful; the new, reinforced system will guarantee quality in communication.

And all this, for how much?

There currently exist a number of devices for the disabled on the market. However, unfortunately many disabled persons are denied access to these because, according to the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) their price is prohibitive. This is why COMPORTA have focused on the final product being accessible for this target group of people.

The solution adopted was the use of commercial hardware with adapted software. In most cases, the hardware is specialised. In this case, however, it is one that is manufactured in great numbers, thus reducing the price considerably. Moreover, in choosing a PDA amongst mobile communicators, the economic factor was also taken into consideration, as these are also cheaper than other communicators.

Egoitz Etxebeste | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>