Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), and, for the disabled, global awareness can’t come soon enough. Many of us take for granted our ability to easily operate the connected devices that drive today’s world. It seems there’s a cell phone in everyone’s collection of communication devices—except for those whose disabilities, like paralysis, ALS, cerebral palsy, or Parkinson’s, make dialing a phone number impossible. Today, there’s an app for that!
Device designer Oded Ben Dov, CEO of Sesame Enable Ltd., has developed a hands-free solution for interacting with smartphones and tablets. With his technology, users control mobile devices simply by moving their head. Available for free in Google Play, the SesameReader app for Android lets individuals, once unable to make a phone call, become a part of this intricately connected world.
It’s just a matter of moving your head. Move your head to the right, and the cursor moves to the right. If you leave your head still momentarily, a check mark and X pops up to let you select or cancel the button. The app also provides the user with the ability to read e-books, musicians can employ the device to turn pages of sheet music as their playing, cooks can turn the pages of a digital cookbook when hands are too messy for the job, and playing video games has been given the nod, too! As you can imagine, Ben Dov and other developers are exploring every potential for this empowering technology.
The designer worked with test users of different ages, different backgrounds, and different conditions to make sure his device would be as widely accessible as possible. Ben Dov also “wrapped” the technology as a “Software Development Kit” (SDK), so other developers can use it in their applications. The SesameReader also responds to a wave of the hand, expanding its potential for use with an even greater range of disabilities.
Now for the details. When the user opens the SesameReader app, it scans his head in order to be able to track his movements. The device responds to commands given by head movement up, down, left, right, and hold. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so take a look at the two videos below. The top one shows how the SesameReader works, and the second video shows a gentleman playing the video game Candy Crush using just his head. Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day! What other applications would you like to see for this technology?