We aimed to design a microphone to be connected to a tablet or Android sever (e.g., based on Odroid) to offer an accessible interface. This microphone should allow the user to give speech commands with more comfort compared to the built-in microphone of tablets. To increase the usability, the device should also feature a number of hardware buttons that optionally provide access to important functions (e.g., go back; de-/activate speech recognition etc.). These functions should be customizable by the user, therefore the name of “customic”. Customizing can either take place using a software configurator or or using tangible tokens implemented with RFID.


The user gives the speech command “OK Google text message to Alexandra”. As a consequence, the system opens the texting app and the user starts dictating his/her message. However, the speech recognition interprets the last word incorrectly. Therefore, the user touches the delete button next to the mic module → the last word is deleted as a response. As time passes by, nevertheless, the user figures out that he/she doesn’t actually need this function. He/she would rather use the same button as a shortcut for navigating to the music app. Therefore, he/she puts the “programming mode” RFID tag on top of the device → the system is now in program mode. Then, he touches button #1 and places the music app RFID tag on the devices. As a consequence, the corresponding touch button now is programmed to serve as a music app quick access button. Alternatively, the device could also be reconfigured using an app running on the tablet, instead of the tangibles (RFID tags).


Read More: Customic (2015)

From the abstract of the paper referenced below:

In HCI, there is much interest in exploring novel technology-mediated communication that can empower older users who don’t have easy access to regular computers. In this paper we exploit the potential of smart phones and tablet computers to create a series of technology probes that we deploy long-term making use of close family members. By this means participants can gain experiences with robust and fully implemented devices at a very early stage of design. We lay out four prototypes of communication technologies with different forms and functions for older adults. We describe the features of these devices including some indicative feedback from our informal deployment study. We thereby suggest that mobile phones are a suitable means for the rapid prototyping of communication technologies for senior people and can possibly provide useful input to later participatory or co-design activities. The overall work is still ongoing hence the main contribution of the paper is about the potential of rapid technology probes as a design technique and in less detail about the potential of the prototypes as AAL communication devices.


Read More: Tablet Companion (2011-2013)

From the abstract of the paper referenced below:

Assistive Technologies can be of enormous help for people with disabilities. Still, such supportive devices are often considered to be poor in aesthetics, leaving the person feeling stigmatised by the technology and resulting in a reduced usage and compliance. In this paper we report on a case study of a young person suffering from cerebral palsy and describe a wearable device, RemoteLogCam, that was designed to help him self-manage his hand spasms and at the same time provide his first opportunity to take his own photos. We call this an example of assistive lifestyle technologies (ALT), designed not only to assist people with special needs in a functional sense, but that also enhance the experience of such a device in a pleasing way. In this case, over the course of 6 months use to date, RemoteLogCam augmented our participant’s own self-management of spasms and his creative and practical documentation needs.

Read More: Flexglove (2011-2013)

Jinglan Zhang, Margot Brereton, Peter Purgathofer, Geraldine Fitzpatrick and me are currently conducting research into enhancing web accessibility for people with a disability. In first line, this work is suppossed to delight people who usually cannot operate a computer by offering them a way for simple web searches which might result in some appealing images.

We propose to utilize RFID tokens to store and materialize website addresses into tangible handles for web access. Most importantly, we use tokens to store frequently used key words and serve as visual aids to enable query through the combination of different search tokens.

As a consequence, the user can search for a preset number of keywords without typing. In the demo video, we show how a image search for "pink cake" is initiated (note, one participant enjoyed browsing images of pink cake on the Internet, therefore we gave the prototype the name of "pink cake"). This works by simply placing the tokens "pink", "cake" and "start image search" on the RFID reader device. Tokens can also hold links to songs or to URLs. The tokens can be configured quite easiliy (see second video).

As a next step, we plan to co-desing customized tokens (tangible objects) and create them with our 3D printer.

Read More: Enhancing Web Accessibility for People with Disability (Work-in-Progress)