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

Objective

Many elderly and disabled people are prevented from using Assistive technology effectively because of difficulties in identifying suitable interface devices (e.g. switches, joysticks or haptic devices). The overall objective of this proposal is to develop and exploit a system for selecting an optimum interface controller for users of assistive technology. The work will involve the establishment of User Groups to define required systems and to ensure end products meet their needs.
The technical programme will develop:
a system to characterise existing interfaces,
and a VR simulator integrated with a haptic interface to quantify user abilities for the operation of different interfaces. There will be exploitation of the I-Match system, development of services to manufacturers and a database for use by service providers.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
Many people with disabilities rely upon assertive technology for independence. However, in many cases, the potential of a particular piece of technology is restricted by the difficulties of user operation. i.e. the impairments which lead to the recommendation of a device prevent its very operation because of the difficulties of interfacing with the user. This project concentrates on the development of techniques to optimise the selection of an interface for a user by measuring both the functional characteristics of the device (e.g. joystick, switch, mouse etc) and the skills of the user.
The key activities are as follows:
to define and measure physical and functional characteristics of available interfaces;
the resulting data will be put into a publicly available database for use by providers and users to measure the hand and arm skills of users. This will involve development of simulations of devices to be controlled (e.g. powered wheelchairs, rehabilitation robots, computers).
It will be possible to operate this system with any type of interface (including a haptic device). Using a set of exercises and tests, it will allow quantification of the abilities of users and, therefore, choice of the optimum interface. The use of a haptic interface with the system will allow the identification of user skills in response to more sophisticated force feedback.
User studies:
The system will be evaluated by User Centres in 4 different member states. Studies will be designed to ensure rigorous evaluation of this approach to interface selection and user training. Exploitation of VR systems and associated techniques will be handled by a Consortium of EU companies experienced in software and rehabilitation robotics.

MILESTONES
M1 Selection of assertive technologies and interfaces for inclusion in the project
M2 Availability of standards and measurement systems for Interface Characteristics.
M3 Working version of VR software and transfer to User Group
M4 Validation and full understanding of User perspectives on the usability andeffectiveness
M5 Commercial Launch of I-Match system

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
Address
6 Kensington Terrace
NE1 7RU Newcastle Upon Tyne
United Kingdom

Participants (5)

FONDAZIONE DON CARLO GNOCCHI ONLUS
Italy
Address
Piazzale Rodolfo Morandi, 6
20121 Milano
HITECH SNT S.A.
Greece
Address
Spartis 3
17673 Kallithea
THE FOUNDATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
United Kingdom
Address
Mary Marlborough Lodge Centre, Windmill Road, Headington
OX3 7LD Oxford
THE PROVOST FELLOWS AND SCHOLARS OF THE COLLEGE OF THE HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY OF QUEEN ELIZABETH NEAR DUBLIN
Ireland
Address
College Green
2 Dublin
UNIVERZA V LJUBLJANI
Slovenia
Address
Kongresni Trg 12
1000 Ljubljana