Assistive Technology Review: Breathe 2 Relax

Feeling stressed?

Stress has become increasingly common and can affect any one of us in the course of our studies or work. There are, however, tried and tested techniques to help alleviate the impact of stress and there is a new app that can assist you.

Breathe 2 Relax Deep breathing is a powerful stress-relief technique and can be done pretty much anytime and anywhere. It can help to calm your thoughts, focus your mind and take away the pinch of anxiety.

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Assistive Technology Review: Sleep Time

Can’t sleep?

Studies show that anxiety and sleep deprivation are closely linked. Anxiety can certainly cause sleepless nights but insomnia can also lead to a greater risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Getting a regular good night’s sleep goes a long way to help rest the mind as well as the body, giving your brain the chance to use its natural ability to process the worries of the day and keep you happier.

There is a new piece of assistive technology that gives a helping hand towards having a better night’s sleep in the form of the smart phone app, Sleep Time.

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Whizz Kidz

whizzkidz

Coldplay singer Chris Martin with Inspirational Young Person award winner Conor McKenna at the Kidz Unlimited Awards ceremony earlier this month

In the UK we have a crisis of young people whose physical mobility needs, and subsequently their ability to develop the skills needed for adulthood, are far from being fully met. Thousands of families battle through the health and social care systems, unable to access appropriate wheelchairs to give their children the chance of a childhood and the independence to have an ambitious future. At Whizz-Kidz we estimate there are over 70,000 disabled children and young people in the UK who have the wrong wheelchair for them – if they have one at all. We are singularly focussed on reaching as many of these young people as possible.

Over the course of almost a quarter of a century, Whizz-Kidz has been the largest provider of mobility equipment outside of the NHS – and our innovation in healthcare has been widely recognised. In the autumn of last year, after a rallying cry for innovative ideas, the NHS pledged to develop more pioneering approaches, including harnessing technology to improve health outcomes and create better experiences for patients.

As part of this commitment, the Department of Health has recently funded the development of a new smartphone app for Whizz-Kidz. Free to download, the app allows young disabled people and their families to access a number of the charity’s services – including beginning the application process for vital mobility equipment which will transform their lives, offering them greater choice, and providing more opportunities for them to fulfil their potential. Like all of Whizz-Kidz’s innovations, our app has customers at its heart and was designed to give young disabled people the tools to make their own decisions, and afford them another convenient channel by which to achieve independent mobility – in this case at the touch of a screen.

Some of its key features include videos to show parents how to measure their children prior to assessment in order to speed up the process; and a ‘Rate and Review’ service similar to commercial services like Trip Advisor or Patients Like Me – whereby families can give feedback on the products they receive from Whizz-Kidz. We use this intelligence as leverage to drive the manufacturers to make improvements and increase user satisfaction.

Crucially, using technology in this way is cost effective. It is possible to save financial costs to the NHS, and keep standards of healthcare high. For instance, if a young person downloads the app, which leads them to apply for an appropriate wheelchair preventing them developing pressure sores, it could potentially save hospitalisation and even spinal surgery. This is the tip of the iceberg in potential savings. The right equipment might mean a child can reach their school desk comfortably and require less school adaptions. Their parents might then be more likely to work, impacting less on the state.

You can read the rest of this article by Ruth Owen OBE at

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/technology-topics/10204856/Mobilising-technology-the-app-changing-the-lives-of-disabled-children.html?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer8c2a6&utm_medium=twitter

Thanks to Chris for submitting this

Sight to sound to sight

blind glasses

Here’s a new piece of assistive technology designed to improve the experiences of people who were born with full vision but subsequently lost their sight.
 
What vOICe does is remarkable. It captures visual data and converts it into sound. The converted sound is called a “soundscape”. Each soundscape is a scan from the left to right ear –  the frequency of the sound represents the vertical axis of the image. The louder the audio, the brighter the image is.
 
blind glasses posterThe vOICe consists of a pair of glasses with a camera mounted on it. The camera collects visual data and passes it on to the conversion software that the laptop connected to the glasses/camera combo runs (the idea is to carry the laptop in a backpack).The laptop in turn is connected to a pair of headphones which are worn by the user. The headphones project the sound captured and converted to the ears, essentially telling the user where/ how far an object/obstacle is.
 
Click on the diagram for clarity.
 
 
 

Kinetic typography

kinetic

Kinetic typography is the technical name for moving text which began to be used in the opening titles of films in the 1960s. One of the aims of kinetic typography is to add significant emotive content and appeal to the written word. For example, if you click on the first link below, you will see and hear how a speech by President Obama has been greatly enhanced in the way that certain words have been highlighted and presented: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NByE3WUO_wE

One of the most popular examples of kinetic typography was delivered by Stephen Fry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

It has been suggested that kinetic typography can improve overall reading performance so may be advantageous for ALS students. For more examples of ways in which it can be used, please click the final link: http://vimeo.com/channels/kinetictypography