App opens up smartphone use for people with arm paralysis

Dowell can be used with assistive devices such as head-tracking sensors

Dowell, shown at the 2015 Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Seoul, is designed to allow people with upper-limb paralysis to use smartphones. It can be used with the head-tracking sensor and trackball mouse seen here as well as other assistive devices.

Dowell, shown at the 2015 Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Seoul, is designed to allow people with upper-limb paralysis to use smartphones. It can be used with the head-tracking sensor and trackball mouse seen here as well as other assistive devices.

South Korean researchers have developed an app that helps people with arm paralysis use smartphones.

Dubbed Dowell, the app is designed to assist people who can't use their hands well, and is targeted at users with muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke and other ailments that restrict movement.

The app has a user interface that works with a variety of input methods for disabled people, which are known as computer assistive devices. It can receive information from a trackball mouse, head-tracking camera and mouth stick, which is a tool for manipulating a cursor with the mouth.

The project is being presented at the 2015 Computer-Human Interaction Conference (CHI) in Seoul this week as part of an industry-university collaboration involving Samsung Electronics.

"Until now, people with upper-limb disabilities have been limited to PCs if they want to use computers," said developer Ahn Hyun-jin, a student at Seoul National University's Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology. There are a number of assistive devices for PCs that are already available for people with disabilities.

In a demo, Ahn attached a small red sticker to his glasses and stood in front of a smartphone linked to a HeadMouse Extreme, a wireless optical sensor that can track the sticker.

He was able to navigate through the app's menus by moving his head from side to side, which controlled a cursor on the smartphone's screen. When the cursor dwells on a menu item for a second or two, that item is selected.

He repeated the demo with a trackball mouse, which is a large red sphere used by people with limited finger movement.

The app has a specially designed user interface that uses all four edges of the screen for menus, allowing for more choices such as dragging and tapping items. Users are able to scroll through photos, for instance, or zoom in on photos.

Ahn said eight disabled users tried out the app as part of its development and responded favorably to it, even though they had never used smartphones before.

He plans to release the application to the Samsung Apps platform in a few months.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesconsumer electronicsSamsung ElectronicsCHI

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?