Section: Application Domains

Assistive Computing

Cognitive impairments (memory, attention, time and space orientation, etc.) affect a large part of the population, including older adults, patients with brain injuries (traumatic brain injury, stroke, etc), and people exhibiting cognitive incapacities, such as Down syndrome.

The emerging industry of assistive technologies provide hardware devices dedicated to specific tasks, such as a telephone set with a keyboard picturing relatives (http://www.doro.fr ), or a device for audio and video communication over the web (http://www.technosens.fr ). These assistive technologies apply a traditional approach to personal assistance by providing an equipment dedicated to a single task (or a limited set of tasks), without leveraging surrounding devices. This traditional approach has fundamental limitations that must be overcome to significantly improve assistive technologies:

  • They are not adaptable to one's needs. They are generally dedicated to a task and have very limited functionalities: no networking, limited computing capabilities, a limited screen and rudimentary interaction modalities. This lack of functionality may cause a proliferation of devices, complicating the end-user life. Moreover, they are rarely designed to adapt to the cognitive changes of the user. When the requirements evolve, the person must acquire a new device.

  • They are often proprietary, limiting innovation. As a result, they cannot cope with the evolution of users' needs.

  • They have limited or no interoperability. As a result, they cannot rely on other devices and software services to offer richer applications.

To break this model, we propose to offer an assistive platform that is open-ended in terms of applications and entities. (1) An online catalog of available applications enables every user and caregiver to define personalized assistance in the form of an evolving and adapted set of applications; this catalog provides a community of developers with a mechanism to publish applications for specific daily-activity needs. (2) New types of entities (whether hardware or software) can be added to a platform description to enhance its functionalities and extend the scope of future applications.