High Level Goals
In decreasing order of importance, the device should have the following characteristics:
- High output speech rate: The device should aim for a speech rate as close to normal human speech as possible, but achieve at least 30 words-per-minute (60 WPM is the speed achieved by a good typist)
- Low cost: The device should cost as little as possible; in 2014 dollars, the goal is to achieve a cost per unit of under $1,000. Current commercially available devices cost tens of thousands of dollars.
- Everyday usage: When patients are in unfamiliar surroundings, they are most vulnerable and these are the critical times when quick and precise communication can help prevent injuries. The device, therefore, should be small and lightweight and work unobtrusively without requiring a bedroom or hospital setting. In particular, it should work in “non-controlled settings” – while traveling in a wheelchair and a handicapped accessible vehicle.
- Global: The device should be able to generate text and human comprehensible speech in multiple languages.
Current Project: TAALS Communicator – Patent Pending
TA-ALS Communicator video
The goal of this project is to build an easy to use, low-cost, portable, and standalone AAC communicator that will enable patients with ALS or other disabilities and impairments to communicate using only eye movements.
Unlike many other AAC devices, the TAALS Communicator is unobtrusive- simply worn like a pair of glasses. The objective is to enable patients to communicate their basic needs in any setting without the need of complex devices or software. For these reasons, complex calibrations and adjustments for head and body movements will not be necessary.
Using eye tracking technology combined with proprietary methodology, users of the TAALS Communicator will be able to “type” letters, words, and sentences with eye movements that are as simple as looking up and looking down. When the user is done writing, the TAALS Communicator can convert the text to speech, SMS, e-mail, or voice messaging.