Navigation Links
Generating 'oohs' and 'aahs': Vocal Joystick uses voice to surf the Internet
Date:10/9/2007

A new tool lets people with disabilities control a computer cursor without lifting a finger. Early tests suggest that an experienced user of Vocal Joystick would have as much control as someone using a handheld device.

The Internet offers wide appeal to people with disabilities. But many of those same people find it frustrating or impossible to use a handheld mouse. Software developed at the University of Washington provides an alternative using one of the oldest and most versatile modes of communication: the human voice.

"There are many people who have perfect use of their voice who don't have use of their hands and arms," said Jeffrey Bilmes, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering. "I think there are several reasons why Vocal Joystick might be a better approach, or at least a viable alternative, to brain-computer interfaces." The tool's latest developments will be presented this month in Tempe, Ariz. at the Assets Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

Vocal Joystick detects sounds 100 times a second and instantaneously turns that sound into movement on the screen. Different vowel sounds dictate the direction: "ah," "ee," "aw" and "oo" and other sounds move the cursor one of eight directions. Users can transition smoothly from one vowel to another, and louder sounds make the cursor move faster. The sounds "k" and "ch" simulate clicking and releasing the mouse buttons.

Versions of Vocal Joystick exist for browsing the Web, drawing on a screen, controlling a cursor and playing a video game. A version also exists for operating a robotic arm, and Bilmes believes the technology could be used to control an electronic wheelchair.

Existing substitutes for the handheld mouse include eye trackers, sip-and-puff devices, head-tracking systems and other tools. Each technology has drawbacks. Eye-tracking devices are expensive and require that the eye simultaneously take in information and control the cursor, which can cause confusion. Sip-and-puff joysticks held in the mouth must be spit out if the user wants to speak, and can be tiring. Head-tracking devices require neck movement and expensive hardware.

Vocal Joystick requires only a microphone, a computer with a standard sound card and a user who can produce vocal sounds.

"A lot of people ask: 'Why don't you just use speech recognition"'" Bilmes said. "It would be very slow to move a cursor using discrete commands like 'move right' or 'go faster.' The voice, however, is able to do continuous commands quickly and easily." Early tests suggest that an experienced user of Vocal Joystick would have as much control as someone using a handheld device.

In the laboratory, doctoral student Jonathan Malkin, who helped develop the tool, uses Vocal Joystick to play a game called Fish Tale. It takes two minutes to train the program for Malkin's voice. He then moves the fish character easily around the screen, raising his voice slightly to speed up and avoid being eaten by a predator fish.

The newest development, which will be presented at the October meeting in Tempe, uses Vocal Joystick to control a robotic arm. The pitch of the tone moves the arm up and down; other commands are unchanged. This is the first time that vocal commands have been used to control a three-dimensional object, Bilmes said.

One initial concern, he said, was whether people would feel self-conscious using the tool.

"But once you try it you immediately forget what you're saying," Bilmes said. "I usually go to the New York Times' Web site to test the system and then I get distracted and start reading the news. I forget that I'm using it."

To test the device, the group has been working with about eight spinal-cord injury patients at the UW Medical Center since March.

"It's a really exciting idea. I think it has tremendous potential," said Kurt Johnson, a professor of rehabilitation medicine who is helping with the tests.

Bilmes said he hopes people will become more adept at using the system over time. Future research will incorporate more advanced controls that use more aspects of the human voice, such as repeated vocalizations, vibrato, degree of nasality and trills.

"While people use their voices to communicate with just words and phrases," Bilmes said, "the human voice is an incredibly flexible instrument, and can do so much more."


'/>"/>

Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Blood Cells Capable of Regenerating Liver
2. Therapeutic cloning by regenerating stem cells from heart muscles
3. Two Distinct Types of Vocal Cord Dysfunction Identified
4. Dysfunction of Vocal Cord Often Misdiagnosed for Asthma
5. Autistic Individuals can Be trained to Comprehend Visual and Vocal Cues
6. Brain Controlled Movements Are Studied Using Robotic- Joystick
7. Possibility Of Regaining Speech After Tongue, Voice Box Removal
8. Larynx transplant restores patients voice after 20 years
9. Voice may be improved by surgery
10. The patients voice
11. Collagen improves voice quality in Parkinsonism
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... Austin, TX (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... Fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for ... popular and highly effective treatment for skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Beach, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... UCLA with Magna Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of ... Diego and returned to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article published June ... with. The article goes on to state that individuals are now more comfortable seeking ... common operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical group, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) ... will receive two significant new grants to support its work to advance research ... anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work in fighting ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Topical BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain ... for a minimum wage raise to $12 an hour by 2020 and then adjusting it ... the lost value of the minimum wage, assure the wage floor does not erode again, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. , June 24, 2016 ... GBT ), a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics ... significant unmet needs, today announced the closing of ... shares of common stock, at the public offering ... shares in the offering were offered by GBT. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 The Academy ... of recommendations that would allow biopharmaceutical companies ... with entities that make formulary and coverage decisions, a ... "value" of new medicines. The recommendations address ... not appear on the drug label, a prohibition that ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 According ... by Type (Standard Pen Needles, Safety Pen Needles), Needle ... GLP-1, Growth Hormone), Mode of Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) - ... This report studies the market for the forecast period ... reach USD 2.81 Billion by 2021 from USD 1.65 ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: