Scientists Developing Technology to Help Children with Disabilities Draw


Pic courtesy of Dana’s Kids.

Many of us have happy childhood memories of doodling pictures and having our mothers display them proudly on the refrigerator. A team of scientists at the University of London are currently working with the non-profit SpecialEffect to develop a technology that will extend the joy of the creation to children with severe physical and mental disabilities. Psychology professor Dr. Tim Holmes tells Science Daily:

The ability to draw or build is something many of us take for granted, and it’s an important facilitator of cognitive development. However, even with the computer software to manipulate virtual equivalents of building bricks and crayons, many of these programs remain inaccessible to the physically and mentally disabled. Recent developments in assistive technologies have used eye-movements as an alternative to standard computer interfaces such as the mouse, keyboard and joystick. But our technology goes one step further, by recognising the meaning, or intent, associated with those eye-movements, enabling the software to work with the user, presenting design variants which are increasingly optimal over successive presentations. This technology will allow them to do something they currently can’t do.

The new program looks truly amazing. By following your eyes, it “reads your mind” so to speak, creating a design based on the preferences implied by your eye movements. Basically, it sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel. Starting tomorrow and extending through the summer, the research team will be inviting visitors to London’s Science Museum to try out the technology. To any readers living in or visiting the UK, check it out and tell us how it is!

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