Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Technology Tuesday

This week's Tech Tuesday takes us to the Charles Family SmartHome, where Shelly has found new and exciting ways to control her environment. In the past, because of her significant physical disabilities, Shelly has had to rely on others to control certain aspects of her environment – say, opening and closing window blinds or turning on and off a room humidifier.

But technology has changed that, and the tech keeps on improving, sometimes with the help of some friends.

For example, a team of engineering students at the University of Colorado recently put together a really fascinating project for the benefit of Shelly.

First, a little background. New products like the Amazon Echo or Alexa can use verbal commands to operate any number of household devices or control entertainment options. However, there is still a gap for individuals like Shelly who are non-verbal, as these devices may not be able to “understand” the commands.

The CU student project “teaches” Echo and Alexa to understand non-verbal commands (like grunts), so even non-verbal individuals can take advantage of the amazing opportunities for independent action and environmental control these devices bring. Shelly has been testing the project, and it's proven to be very exciting as a proof of concept, but we still have some adjustments to make before it can be reliable for everyday use.

In the meantime, Shelly continues to use her DynaVox, controlled by a head switch, to communicate directly with Amazon to do any number of exciting things, as you can see in the video below. Of course, we've only just scratched the surface of what we can do, so stay tuned for more!

Great work, Shelly!
  Can’t see the video? Click here.

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