Blind World Magazine

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute unveils gadgets for the disabled.

The Korea Herlad, Korea.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006.

Despite their physical challenges, disabled people can now search the internet via brainwave-recognition keyboards and go around downtown with reading robots.

Thanks to the latest IT inventions, the quality of life for the disabled can be improved, according to the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute yesterday.

The state telecommunications institute yesterday unveiled IT gadgets for people with physical handicaps, as today marks the day for the disabled in Korea.

A keyboard capable of recognizing brainwaves is based on interface technology. It allows users to operate computers, search the internet and do computer games, by recognizing body signals sent from muscles, wirelessly.

"For those who are unable to use their limbs, we developed a mouse operated through biting. Through a collaborated study with the National Rehabilitation Center, we're testing the gadget on patients with spinal cord injuries," said Kim Jong-sung, ETRI's virtual reality research team.

Also, there's a home server to do house chores.

By using a personal computer connected to a digital home server, people with disabilities will be able to turn on lights, open windows or lock gas valves.

Further, ETRI's intelligence robot, dubbed "ETRO," is capable of reading banners and posters on city streets.

The robot, whose intelligence quotient is around 40, follows the instructions and is able to read fairy tales, newspapers and textbooks for them.

ETRI also unveiled the "Weber R1" robot, topped with encyclopedia functions. Weber R1 delivers various kinds of information by recognizing user voices.

These robots can also recognize sign language and translate it into spoken language, ETRI said.

Further, ETRI developed technology for transforming colors for the color blind, a computer with only 10 simple keys for the visually impaired and a telephone that allows human bones to transmit signals for voice recognition.

"These inventions, however, have difficulties for commercialization. We're considering partnerships with tech ventures to put these gadgets in the mass market," said Son Wook-ho at ETRI's virtual reality research team.

"The market for the handicapped is so small. That's why the government needs to expand its budget," Son said.

ETRI is also developing conference call and fingerprint recognition systems using technologies such as radio frequency identification and next-generation wearable computers.


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