Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Online Videos To Have Captions

fcc closed captioning logo
Image source:

Deaf viewers and disability advocates have a reason to rejoice - Starting September 30, the FCC has ordered online video sites to start providing captions to their viewers. In the recent past, the lack of captions in online streaming videos has been a hot topic for debate, with deaf viewers complaining that the industry has not done much to accommodate their needs. However, with this new ruling, deaf and hard of hearing viewers will have a right to get access to captions in online videos.

Industry leaders like Youtube, Amazon, and Apple argued that they need more time, however, their plea literally fell on deaf ears. However, as of now, content providers are only required to provide just the captions and not the raw data, which means that viewers would not be able to change the font color and size as per their needs - they would have to wait 16 months to get that flexibility (early 2014). Also, this ruling covers only those contents that are created for both TV and web. Clips created by providers just for the web (news clips, webisodes, etc.) are not required to have captions starting September 30.

To read the ruling, visit this link.

Source: GigaOm

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WREX: 3D Printer Used To Print Exoskeleton For Two Year Old Girl

picture of emma hugging her mother
Image source: Digital Trends
Meet Emma, a two year old girl who was born with a condition that prevented her from moving her arms. The condition, called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (or AMC), causes the joints to stay in one position permanently. Little Emma could not move her limbs, which meant that she could not do what other little children like to do - draw, color, pop candy in her mouth, comb her hair, and lots of other similar fun things.

a scientist examining wrex
Image Source: Digital Trends
 Emma's parents attended a conference in Philadelphia where they met the developers of Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), an exoskeleton that helps children with musculoskeletal disabilities move their arms in 3D space. Since Emma was very little, the folks behind WREX designed a jacket that would fit her small body and weigh significantly less, and "printed" it out using a Stratasys 3D printer! The arms for the jacket are made out of the same kind of plastic used in Lego blocks, and resistance bands are used to adjust the tension in the arms. 

 Emma has already outgrown her first jacket, but getting her a new jacket was not a problem - a new one was simply printed out of the 3D printer! Emma is a happy girl now, and she can do everything that other girls her age do!

 Watch this video to hear Emma's story and watch her progress.

Watch the following video to learn more about WREX.

Source: Digital Trends

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Call for Proposals for Assistive and Accessible Mobile Applications for 2012-13

Wireless RERC project directors
Image Source: Wireless RERC website
The Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (Wireless RERC), creator of access to wireless technologies to people with disabilities, is inviting developers to submit proposals to obtain financial support for creating assistive and/or accessibility apps for popular mobile platforms like iOS, Android, Blackberry 10, and Windows Phone.

The Wireless RERC's app development budget is approximately $90k, and the idea is to support the development of four new apps per grant year. The app will be released through every platform's appropriate channel (App Store, Google Play, etc.) or through Wireless RERC's App Factory. If the app is successful, the developer may be offered additional funding to add more features or to create the app for an additional platform.

Proposals will be evaluated on the following parameters:

  • The app addresses an important accessibility or assistive technology need. 
  • The app is unlikely to be developed in the commercial marketplace. 
  • The app is technically feasible and the technical capacity required for development is readily demonstrable by the developer. 
  • The projected lifetime of the app justifies the investment. 
  • The projected lifetime of the app justifies the investment.The app complements and does not duplicate other apps in the marketplace or under development.

For the 2012-13 grant year, proposals need to be submitted by 15 September, 2012, and the final apps need to be delivered by August 10, 2013.

To read more details about the Call for Proposals, visit the website here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Low Cost Eye Tracker To Control Computer

Researchers at Imperial College London have invented a device made from off the shelf video game equipment that tracks eye movement, thus allowing users (especially stroke victims; people with bad motor skills, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries or amputees) to control a cursor on a screen.

a user wearing the glasses with video cameras for demonstration
Image source: The Inquisitr
The device comprises of two video game cameras that are attached to a pair of glasses. The cameras, facing the eyes, keep track of movement of pupils by constantly taking pictures, and these pictures are used in a calibration process to figure out where exactly the person is looking at the screen.

For demonstration purposes, subjects were asked to play the video game "Pong". The subjects controlled the movement of the paddle with their eyes, which was tracked by this device. It was noted that all six subjects were able to play the game comfortably only within ten minutes of using the device for the first time. In addition to playing the video game, they were also able to browse the web and write emails.

This device transmits data over wi-fi or USB to Windows or Linux computers, and is built from parts that cost no more than $30, thus appropriately being called a "frugal innovation" by its inventors.

Watch this video to see a demo of this device that tracks eye movement precisely, and yet is thousands of times less expensive than commercial devices.

Full free article: IOPScience