The mobile phone industry offers a wide range of services and applications. Unfortunately, the marketplace has been void of functional smartphones for people with upper limb mobility needs until recently. For many years, people with arm paralysis have been unable to check e-mail, pull-up photos or access social media sites.
A new smartphone application assists persons with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), arthritis, cerebral palsy, injuries, muscular dystrophy, stroke and other arm movement restrictions. There is also a Bluetooth headset that is on the market for hands-free cell phone dialing and several devices for home phones. The new application will provide persons with arm paralysis smartphone access.
The new application is known as Dowell and was designed by a researcher from South Korea. The 2015 Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Seoul is the launch site for the new application. The new application may be utilized with head-tracking sensors and other computer assistive apparatuses. A user interface receives information from a head-tracking camera, mouth stick or a trackball mouse.
One technique for using the new application is to apply a sticker to eyeglasses that can be tracked by a wireless optical sensor to operate a smartphone. The wireless optical sensor is known as a HeadMouse Extreme. Side to side head movements scroll through the smartphone’s menu. A selection is made by a long pause on the menu item. The device was a joint effort of Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology and Samsung.
According to the developer, Ahn Hyun-jin, a student from Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, assistive technology devices have been available for personal computers for many years. Persons with upper limb movement restrictions had to carry a personal computer to access the internet in the past. The student tested the application with several people with upper limb mobility needs.
*Photo courtesy of Smartphone Evolution by Phil Roeder at Flickr’s Creative Commons.