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Content archived on 2024-05-27

A VR based system to allow matching of an optimum interface to a User of Assistive Technology

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Database deployment defeating disability deficiencies

Assistive technology for the disabled has become an enormously detailed business, and identifying which device is most suitable for a user, a labyrinth of investigation. A newly compiled database has merged with an established service to provide an easy to use, searchable and informative resource for disabled people.

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There is a flood of assistive technologies on the market today, ranging from switches to wheelchair appliances, from haptic devices to joysticks and electronic interfaces. Knowing exactly which one is the most useful or best suited for a user has become a nightmare. Although much care has gone into their development, ailments and disabilities are so varied, there is no easy way to find a perfect match. An EC funded project I-MATCH has now combined the I-Match database with the SIVA portal hosted by Italian Fondazione Don Gnocchi. Moreover, it has integrated with the European Assistive Technology Information Network (EASTIN) to provide European-wide access. With the Italian Ministry of Welfare involved, high visibility and public awareness is ensured. The database offers new and advanced search facilities, encouraging manufacturers to submit as much detail about their product as possible. This incentive is important, as when more information is available, the choices made are usually more appropriate. The structure of the database is also the first attempt at standardising such information. This constitutes another important outcome as it provides a highly useful interface mask for technical definition. In short, this means more comprehensible information will be made available to users. Because the database is constantly and consistently updated, the newest information becomes immediately available. A spin off benefit to this is that there in an inherent assessment facility in place as users can now, for the first time, compare products. Overall, the migration to the SIVA portal has proven highly worthwhile as its integration, facilities and detail ensures that it meets a variety of targeted objectives as well as a range of end-use purposes. For example, manufacturers can use the database as a means of advertising their products, and since a wide public audience is reached, proffer testing opportunities to their users for feedback purposes. All in all, the migration and development has proven its worth and should offer everyone involved the means to make better decisions to improve both their quality of life and the developed product.

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