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The Warsaw Voice » Other » July 1, 2009
Information technology
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Computers Controlled by the Lips
July 1, 2009   
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Inventors at the Gdańsk University of Technology's Multimedia Systems Department have built a multimodal interface for controlling the computer with lip and tongue movements.

The invention, credited to Andrzej Czyżewski and Piotr Dalka, won a gold medal at this year's Councours Lépine innovation fair in Paris.

Czyżewski, aided by Piotr Odya, has also designed a multimodal graphic interface for students with dyslexia that won a silver medal at the Paris exhibition.

Read my lips
The multimodal interface for controlling the computer with lip and tongue movements will be help to paralyzed people and those with paresis in their hands, the inventors say.

What makes the system different from other inventions of this kind is that users do not need any extra devices attached to their bodies. Conventional systems available to paralyzed users require a special detector to be mounted on the user's head with sensor arms reaching to the eyes and mouth. The Gdańsk invention does not require the computer to undergo any special adjustments before it is used by a disabled person, and, more importantly, the user needs no devices attached to his or her body. All the new system needs to work is an ordinary PC and a webcam, which obviously reduces the cost of using the interface.

In the application, the computer cursor is controlled with movements of the lips, which are captured by an ordinary webcam and then recognized through dynamic image processing. Advanced algorithms of image analysis and processing contained in the application are thus used to control a computer.

Challenging dyslexia
The multimodal graphic interface is an aid used in the treatment of dyslexia. The system consists of a special pen, a graphics tablet, and software for exercises. The system employs special sensors that measure the force with which a child squeezes the pen. During an exercise, the device also measures how hard the pen is being pressed against the tablet and checks the number of contour breaks, that is how often the child lifts the pen off the tablet.

According to the inventors, 15 percent of Poland's school students show some symptoms of dyslexia. This means that schools need to be equipped with efficient tools to diagnose and treat the disorder, the inventors say.

Ewa Dereń
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