Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A rough sketch of a software project

Indeed, I'm a graduate student of Software Engineering, and one of the classes I'm taking now is Software Engineering. In this class, we have to design a software product as class project. We don't need to do any coding, but we need to finish the detail design document like defining screen shots until the end of the semester.

I picked a communication aid for iPad as my project. I just completed a rough sketch of it, which is following. Please let me know if you have comments or suggestions.

Project Proposal.

Communication Pad for Cerebral Palsy and other disabled.

Talk aid with icons or combination of icons was good, but we needed to remember all patterns of words. For example, "Sunday" is [calender]+[Sun]. It's like to learn another language, and it takes time to learn. It's also a hardware device which costs $5,000. I understand that it is from the scale of economy. i.e. the market is too small to fit in mass production.

If we make it as software and put it into personal devices like tablet PC (iPad, for example), the cost of the device can be reduced dramatically. This is my motivation to design the communication aid software.

Besides, a talk aid has being a small computer, but the memory is not big. If it has bigger memory, then it can cache the sentences we typed in. We can reuse the sentences later in other conversation. Also I realized that time and place can be counted as dimensions of communication. We say "Good morning" in morning, and "Good night" at night. So if we put clock into the software, then users of the software just need to push greeting icon. Another example is place. Think about shopping in grocery store, "Please pick that fruit for me and put it into my basket" or "Please take cash from my wallet which is in my little bag" is common phrase I like to use. If the software got the current point that the user is standing or sitting in his wheelchair. The software can guess which messages the user use frequently. Nowadays, GPS can help with this.

Moreover we use blog or twitter to communicate with others. We usually put updates on it. Although it is not always a good idea to make the conversations open, but if the aid gather the messages from these internet sites, users can use them in every little conversations with friends or people around then when the user see them in person.

So I like to work on this software device for my Software Engineering class project in this semester.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Slides Show by a guy with cerebral palsy.

It was more than 2 years ago that I first implemented a speech aid with slides. As you know, I have cerebral palsy and speech impediment. So it's very hard to speak to people who have not talked with me in person. And many friends have hard time to have conversation with me even after years.

So even if I have some good ideas in my head, it's sometimes hard to pass them to other people, or more specifically, giving a presentation by myself would be nearly impossible.

However, there has been one helpful software, Text-to-Speech software, which blind people usually use as screen reader. Then I wrote a command which sends a text line to TTS driver and lets it speak. It was ok, but it was not successful especially when I gave a short lecture of the commands, how I had created it, in London Dec. 2007. It was big embarrassing, and I had temper to throw myself into River Themes after the failed speech, but I did allow myself not to commit it. :-)

2 years later, it was last December, actually; I had another idea doing the same thing. If I have slides images (jpeg) and audio (wav) files of narration which are generated through TTS, then I can make a movie file from them. I used Microsoft Movie Maker for it. Here is a first test movie:

And I had to give a presentation for my MBA class in last December, so that I used this method to create one for myself, which is following: