Sunday, April 27, 2008

Link to article: Demonstrating the Feasibility of Using Forearm Electromyography for Muscle-Computer Interfaces

I couldn't resist posting a link to an interesting article, Demonstrating the Feasibility of Using Forearm Electromyography for Muscle-Computer Interfaces, that was shared at the recent CHI 2008 conference in Florence, Italy.

  • CHI 2008, April 5–10, 2008, Florence, Italy.
    Copyright 2008 ACM 978-1-60558-011-1/08/04

For an easy-to-read summary of this research, take a look at High-tech armband puts your fingers in control, written by Paul Marks, in NewScientistTech.

About the Authors:

Desney Tan, a researcher at Microsoft, is one of the article's authors. Tan is known for his research with large screen displays, and also for his work with emerging forms of human/computer/technology interaction. T. Scott Saponas is a fourth-year Ph.D student at the University of Washington and was recently selected as a 2008 Microsoft Research Fellow. Ravin Balakrishnan is an associate professor at of computer science at the University of Toronto. (Balakrishnan was the co-author of Exploring the feasibility of video mail for illiterate users. Proceedings of AVI 2008 - the Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces.)

Back Story:

I came across this article while preparing slides for a presentation during a pre-conference session at the Games for Health conference in May. I'll be discussing usability and accessibility considerations for children's games for health in K-12 settings, from a UDL (Universal Design for Learning) perspective. UDL is closely related to the concepts of Universal Design and Universal Usability(pdf).

A muscle-computer interface might provide some creative ways to include students with special needs many more opportunities to participate with their "non-disabled" peers, especially in inclusive classrooms.

Traditional assistive technology input devices don't quite make it for some of the students, as many are difficult for teachers, therapists, or parents to program. The purpose behind the devices is to allow one student to access applications- or games- on one computer (or console). In many cases, the devices only work on certain applications or websites. Even if the student CAN access the application, game, or website through an assistive device, the application might not be designed to accommodate the special needs, or accommodate alternate modes of input, interaction, or feedback.

Although assistive technology and augmented communication devices used in education setting allows for some peer-to-peer and student-to-staff-to-student interaction, it is not designed for collaborative technologies, including multi-user learning games and applications, such as EduSim, that usually run on on larger displays and interactive whiteboards, found an increasing number of classrooms.

The muCI interface might prove to be an effective way for children, teens, and adults with special needs to interact with kiosks and interactive information displays that they come across in the community. These displays are becoming ubiquitous in in retail environments, museums, airports, hospitals, and other public spaces. If the applications for displays in public spaces are designed to allow for input from something like the muCI interface, and if future versions of the muCI interface are designed for cross-platform interoperability, the chances of effective community integration for people with special needs of all ages will be vastly improved.

We have a long way to go. It is essential that the teams who participate in this type of research include people from a variety of disciplines and examine this space from a broader perspective.

No comments: