TiltText – Summary and Thoughts


—  Technique for entering text into 9-key mobile phone

  • Standard 9 key phone + low-cost tilt sensor
  • Uses combination of tilting phone (left, forward, right, back)
  • Pressing button to enter text
  • ‘Zero’ button to reset position
  • Press button without tilt for numbers

—  Related Research

  • Multi-tap: Multi tap to select key, wait for time out or button –  Disadvantages: Slow, time-out wait time
  • Two-Key disambiguation: Select key group, then key position (1-4) – Disadvantages: Never gained popularity
  • Linguistic Disambiguation: E.g T9 – Disadvantages: Two words same sequence, need to look at screen, non-english words

—  Study

  • 10 participants
  • 2 techniques (MultiTap and TiltText)
  • 2 sessions per technique
  • 640 total phrases each

—  Results

  • Initial learning curve – TiltText started slower
  • After learning curve: 23% faster than MultiTap
  • Higher error rate than MultiTap (11% vs 3%) due to tilt errors (mostly back tilt 36% for ‘s’ and ‘z’)

—  Advantages

  • Faster than MultiTap
  • Isn’t dependent on language

Personal Thoughts:

As a big fan of physical keys, this may have been frustrating for me to use, but I have to admit that this is a pretty nifty tool. I wonder why this techniques never became mainstream (at least not to my knowledge). What is the additional cost of including the sensors in the phones? Are there any health implications to having the tilt sensors close to the body? What are the longterm effects on the wrists from the continuous tilting? Does this technique allow people with disabilities in the hands or even arthritis of the wrists to use it?

Chapter 5 (pages 338-348) – Summary and Thoughts

This reading describes the cognitive skills that are critical to functional performance, and some cognitive disorders that impede these skills. It also addresses how we can use assistive technologies to augument the cognitive skills of people with cognitive disabilities. The cognitive skills described in the chapter include:

  • Perception: How we interprete sensations that we receive from the environment.
  • Memory: How we store information, and retrieve it when we need it
  • Orientation: Our basic awareness of our identities, environment, people and things around us etc
  • Knowledge representation: The ways, patterns, and methods we use to store information including grouping and sequencing information, sorting, and how we store facts.
  • Problem Solving: How we use things that we know to deduce things that we don’t know.
  • Language: Any system of communication using sounds, symbols, thoughts, objects gestures etc

There are several cognitive disorders described in this reading – congenital disorders (disorders that occur at birth) and acquired disorders (those that occur after birth).

The congenital disabilities include:

  • Intellectual or Developmental disabilities: Functional skills including communication, language, problem solving, and memory are limited.
  • Learning Disabilities: People affected by this disorder have average mental abilities, but have difficulty comprehending material including language, math, reading etc
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Difficulty paying attention to anything, very often distracted, disorganized and fidgety.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: Limitations in or lack of communication and social skills, but they may able to concentrate for long periods of time and often excel in math, music and science.

The acquired disabilities include:

  • Dementia: Syndrome characterized by a decline in day to day functioning, and impairment in several cognitive skills.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury: Generally occurs as a result when the head or brain is struck by a strong external force, and often results in a loss of several cognitive skills.
  • Cerebral Vascular Accidents (CVA or Stroke): May occur from a lack of blood flow or from ruptured blood vessels in the brain, which causes an interruption in brain function. People with this condition can often recover and return home after some time in the hospital.

I’m especially interested in learning more about ADHD and CVA, as I know many people that have been diagnosed with these conditions. Are there ways to prevent/treat them permanently?


Chapter 3.4 (pages 65 – 78) – Thoughts

This reading analyzes the role of cognitive development in the design of assistive technology. It cites the work of several researchers that classify different stages of development by different age groups. All these age groups have different developmental needs, and these unique needs need to be taken into account when designing assistive technologies for them. For individuals with developmental diabilities, it is not enough to classify them according to the different developmental stages according to their age; neither is it enough to classify them into another developmental stage as a result of their disabilities since they can be developed in one area, but deficient in another. In order to design for individuals with specials needs, their individual needs and capabilities need to be taken into consideration for the proper design of assistice technologies to suit their needs. This reading analyzes all these other factors in relation to cognitive development and assistive technology design:

  • Memory: It covers the different types of memory (sensory, short-term, and long-term), their characteristics, and things to consider when designing assistive technologies for them.
  • Language: It describes the five elements of language (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics), and how language develops in children with and without cognitive deficits.
  • Problem Solving and Decision Making: It describes these terms, and how they can vary across different developmental stages, and people with different cognitive abilities.

Finally, it looks into the psychosocial function as it is related to the use of assistive technologies and how factors like identity and self-protection, motivation, individual beliefs, and individual experience can impact the way humans ineract with asistive technologies.

Overall, it a good body of knowledge of the factors that affect asistive technology design. I wish it went into more depth or presented more case studies on individuals with cognitive impairments, and proven factors to consider in the design of assistive technologies for them.

Participatory Design with Individuals whohave Amnesia – Thoughts

The purpose of this paper is to present effective methods of participatory design of a mobile tool with individuals who have anterograde amnesia.This is a condition where the individuals affected have extreme difficulty storing new memories but are able to better recall events that happened prior to the start of their condition. The paper analyzed other related research studies, and noted that most of the past research focusing on participatory design have only done so in one on one situations with the researcher and the individual with amnesia, because it can be counter productive trying to work with several of them at the same time due to the range of cognitive abilities of individuals suffering from this condition. However, this study focuses on ways that they get individuals with this cognitive disability working together as a group.

The study utilized interviews and site visits (design meetings) to gather the data they needed for the study. They worked as a group through the entire project lifecycle from requirements gathering down to the low level design. The researchers incorporated these techniques in order to support the memory of the amnestic group members

  • They incorporated structure into their design meetings by reviewing material constantly including meeting agendas, minutes of previous meetings, summaries etc. They also structured their meetings in different unrelated chunks so the participants didn’t have to remember information from the previous chunk to continue with the meeting.
  • They created good environmental support by holding meetings in a place that the participants were already familiar with, and constantly made use of name tags to remove the stress of trying to find their way, and remember each others names.
  • They emphasized physical artifacts by relying on external memory aids for the participants eg calendars and action items, and distributed paper documents to comunicate meeting information and prototype design in order to constantly help them remember what to do.
  • They documented all their design history by sending notes to the participants PDA’s. This made the participants really happy because they could share what they worked on with their families as they usually forgot.

Overall, they used the strategy of assessing each participant, understanding the participant’s cognitive deficit, choosing a suitable method to involve them in the design, and adapting that method as necessary to continue to accomodate the participant’s needs. With this strategy, they were able to successfully involve people with cognitive disabilities into their design process, and hopefully create a product better suited for them.

I think this group of researchers made really good strides in the area of participatory design. For their study, they didn’t involve people with really severe cognitive deficits, and I’d like to see in further research to see if they can employ these same strategies and acheive success with design partners suffering from extreme anterograde amnesia.

Balancing Exertion Experiences – Thoughts

Now this is one of the best written papers I’ve read in a long time. Generally, I’m scheming through papers to find the gist. This paper was very well written, approachable and kept me engaged the whole time.

That being said, the purpose of this paper was to describe a mobile exercise system that will allow people with similar fitness abilities/goals/levels jog together. Imagine if two people are jogging – one person most likely has a different fitness ability than the other. This generally results to one person jogging much faster to catch up (uncomfortable) or the other person jogging much slower to stay on pace with the other (not so great workout). This mobile system aims to address that. It consists of a heart rate monitor, a headset, and a small bag containing a mobile phone and a mini computer.
Each runner enters their target heart rate before they start the run, and the system calculates how hard they are working by comparing their current heart rate with their target rate. During the run, the runner who is working “harder” (by running closer to their target heart rate than the other person) sounds to be in front of the other person via the headset, and the other person sounds behind via the headset. If they are working at the same ratio, then they sound to be next to each other via the headset. This system previously used speed/pace as a way to determine who was working harder, but that doesn’t take into consideration people that are running uphill/downhill etc.

This system has many benefits. It allows people who are located physically away from each other to

  • Jog together and motivate each other
  • Socialize with different people who all like to jog
  • Work out at the same intensity even though they may be      doing different activities e.g one person jogging, and the other using a      stationary bike.
  • Compete with each other by trying to get “in      front” of the other person
  • Be empathic with each other because one person can slow      down if the other is panting too hard to keep up with the other.
  • Run with their favorite running partners regardless of      where they are physically located.

Overall, I think this is a very very useful tool, and a great paper. I’m really happy that the paper went into detail about the user studies and the purpose of the tool, instead of going into too much detail on the technicalities of the tool. One thing that isn’t clear in the paper is the purpose of the mobile phone, how the two people are communicating with each other (cellular network? Bluetooth? Wifi?), and some general network information on how all the components “talk” to each other network-wise. It also isn’t clear how much data the system consumes while in use, as this is important to the average user.

A systems approach to the modeling of racing wheelchair propulsion – Thoughts

One of the readings for this week “presents a systems model for racing wheelchair propulsion”. Essentially, it describes (in the form of equations) the factors that affect how quickly and efficiently a racing wheelchair will move (on the road and on an inertial roller) by examining the properties of the wheelchair and the human pushing the wheelchair. The properties to be considered on the chair includes the inertia and radius of the wheels and axles, bearing resistance of the hubs, the mass of the wheelchair etc. The properties of the human, as expected, were a little harder to describe because of how diverse the human anatomy is, however, the article puts into consideration the angle of the hand against the push rings, the force of the push, and how far the person pushes the push rings. All these factors will serve to determine the most efficient way for racing wheelchairs to be designed, and some metrics to better train athletes to achieve maximum speed. 

I think this article is really interesting, and opens doors to a lot of research. The theories have to be validated by actual user studies, and tools have to be developed to measure some of these metrics proposed by the paper, however, I feel that it’s a good start to a world of research that is yet to be explored.

Cook and Hussey Chapter 5 – Thoughts

This chapter goes over all the major funding sources available for assistive technology devices in the United States, and a few other countries like Canada, Australia, and countries in the United Kingdom. Here in the USA, there are several funding sources available for persons with disabilities,and the different programs have different eligibility criterion. There are public programs funded by the federal government (Medicare), and by the state and local governments including Medicaid, Children’s Medical Services, Tricare, Educational programs, programs for workers, programs for military veterans etc. There are also private sources on funding including private health insurance, self funding via loans etc. The chapter also goes over how to obtain funding depending on disabilities and ways to appeal if a funding request was denied.

Overall, this is a very good chapter for practitioners and patients that need to know the funding options available to them. It great that there are so many funding options available, but it might cause some confusion for people with funding needs. There are still lot of people that have disabilities because they don’t qualify for any of the funding options, but overall, it’s still a lot better than what some other countries have available to them.