A "lip reading" click device for disabled computer users

Period of Performance: 08/11/2009 - 07/31/2010

$213K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Vortant Technologies, LLC
Weaverville, NC 28787
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This project aims to improve the quality of life, computer accessibility, and employment potential for spinal cord injured (SCI) and other individuals who cannot use a standard computer keyboard and mouse. Some assistive products, such as head trackers, are suitable for controlling the position of the mouse pointer. However, most such pointing products do not provide an unobtrusive or efficient means for creating mouse clicks. The Phase I SBIR project developed a proof of concept unit that can detect subtle gestures made by the mouth or lips of the user, and interpret these as mouse clicks or other types of switch output, providing a quick and efficient solution to many user needs. In Phase II, we plan to: a) Refine the requirements for the prototype "lip reading" device, based on inputs from people with disability, therapists, technologists, and potential employers, b) Upgrade the sensing apparatus to be more compact, easily mountable by users or caregivers, and even less needful of positioning on the user, c) Upgrade the signal processing and pattern-recognition algorithms to provide additional rejection of unintentional gestures for those with speech or related motor-control issues, d) Create driver and user preference software for the PC, and e) Perform a short-term user evaluation and a month-long in-home trial that demonstrates the main innovations of the project. The result will be that at the end of Phase II, we have a prototype "lip reading" device that has a high-quality look, feel, and function, along with test data from users that shows useful and efficient performance, and a high degree of user satisfaction and preference for the product. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The R&D in this Phase II SBIR project will result in an improved way to use computers for individuals with disabilities who cannot use a standard mouse to click on objects on the computer screen. The technology will also provide an improved switch device for non-computer applications. The results of the project will enable such individuals to be more productive, thus providing improved employment potential and an increase in the quality of life.