It is important to promote assistive technologies to improve quality of life. The proposed SmartAbility Android Application recommends assistive technologies for people with reduced physical abilities, by focussing on actions that can be performed independently.
The SmartAbility Application uses Android built-in sensors, e.g., accelerometer and gyroscope and application programming interfaces (APIs) to detect physical abilities, e.g., head movements and blowing and recommend suitable assistive technologies. This is supported by a MySQL database that stores assistive technologies and mappings between abilities. The underpinning research is the SmartAbility Framework that culminates the knowledge obtained during previously feasibility trials and usability evaluations.
The Application was evaluated by pupils (=18) at special educational needs schools with physical conditions, including cerebral palsy, autism and Noonan syndrome, and assessed through the NASA Task Load Index (TLX) and System Usability Scale (SUS). Analysis using the Adjective Rating Scale highlighted that the Application achieves “Good Usability”.
The SmartAbility Application demonstrates that built-in sensors of Android devices and their APIs, can detect actions that users perform, e.g., head movements and speaking. The Application contains a database where assistive technologies are mapped to physical abilities, in order to provide suitable recommendations. It will be disseminated to assistive technology charities and manufacturers and be used by healthcare professionals as part of the rehabilitation process. Future developments of SmartAbility include the creation of a second Application designed specifically to recommend assistive technologies for the education sector, based on users’ physical and cognitive abilities. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Assistive technology is any item, equipment or piece of software designed to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities. SmartAbility should be introduced into rehabilitation to promote awareness of assistive technologies that are suitable for the physical abilities of the user. Our research highlighted that physical abilities can be detected using built-in sensors of Android devices, e.g. accelerometer and gyroscope. Involvement of the intended user community during evaluations is essential to ensure that a smartphone application is suitable for people with reduced physical abilities. Assistive technologies can support the rehabilitation of people with reduced physical abilities by providing increased independence and improved quality of life.