Assistive technology projects developed at the University of Dundee have been held up as exemplary at a major exhibition of technology that can enhance the lives of older and disabled people.
Rolf Black and Dr Annalu Waller from the University's School of Computing attended the opening of the ATcare Design and Development Centre in London to demonstrate two projects that aim to help children with complex communication needs (CCN).
PhonicStick seeks to develop a prototype joystick to improve the ability of children with CCN to generate speech through a computer, and is funded by Capability Scotland and the Nuffield Foundation.
'How was School today?' has developed software to enable CCN children reliant on speech-generating devices to tell others about their school day. Using sensor and other data, the software automatically generates novel stories about the child's day. This 12-month EPSRC funded feasibility study is a collaborative project with the University of Aberdeen, Capability Scotland and Communication Matters.
Dr Arlene Astell from the University of St Andrews also demonstrated CIRCA, a research project carried out jointly with Dundee that has found a way to promote communication for elderly people with dementia.
This meant that University of Dundee projects featured in three of only eight presentations at the event, which was attended by over 200 industry experts. ATcare was established to improve the range, quality and functionality of assistive technology products to meet the growing demands of older and disabled people.
Dr Waller said she and her colleague were delighted to be part of the ATcare event, 'The feedback on our projects was superb and at one point people were queuing three deep to see the PhonicStick and "How was school today?". It was great to think that we had three out of the eight projects being demonstrated.'
The University's School of Computing contains one of the largest and most influential academic groups in the world researching into information technology and assistive technology for older and disabled people.
It boasts more than 30 researchers with a unique blend of disciplines including computer engineers, psychologists, therapists, creative designers and staff who have benefited from interdisciplinary careers.
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University of Dundee, 11th March 2009