App brings smartphones to people with arm disabilities

Just when you thought technology couldn't get any better, this happens.

Researchers from South Korea have developed an app which can be used by people with arm paralysis and similar disabilities.

The app named Dowell, was designed with people who can’t use their arms at all, or have limited function of them, for example users with muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke and other ailments that restrict movement.

The app’s interface works with a number of different input methods, including a trackball mouse, head-tracking camera and mouth stick.

Mouth stick is a tool which helps manipulate the cursor with your mouth.

The app will be presented at the 2015 Computer-Human Interaction Conference (CHI) in Seoul this week.

“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.

PC World described the demonstration of the app: “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.”

Eight disabled users tried the app and have responded favourably to it, even though they had never used a smartphone before.

For more information on how the app works, check out the video below.