It must be one of the largest Home, Care and Rehabilitation Exhibitions in the world with over 80,000 attendees on the day we attended and over 20,000 stands. Most were related to home care, mobility aids, furniture and very little about communication or use of the computer to aid daily living such as shopping on line or reading using technology. However, here are a few items that caught the eye.
Under the auspices of the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) Rumi and I saw an HTC windows system mobile phone with Japanese text to speech with highlighting for scanned pictures. The text to speech has a little bit of a way to go to make it useful for dyslexic users but the phone could be set in a cradle above the printed page and used in a similar way to the Intel Reader – obviously not as powerful but the recognition rate was good.
There was an example of mobile PSP devices being used in cinemas and the ability for deaf users at home to read captioning related to what is seen on the screen. The health and safety video I saw also had the captioning displayed alongside a signer. At present the system – web-shake has just been used for DVDs available in Japan. The captioning is sent over the internet with time stamps that correlate with those on the video and the user can access the system via their pc or mobile phone.
RCAST developed a mobile phone-based electronic personal profiler for care and support information mainly for use with the elderly who are supported by a range of carers. This now has the addition of a digital pen used on the forms that carers fill in – the information is transferred via PC when the pen is docked and linked to the server. The contents of the client’s notes are sent to a manager and stored with appropriate information being sent onto the next carer, via her mobile phone, 30 minutes before she makes her visit. This means that there is no break in service, each carer learns about the client’s needs and also their interests such as the reason they are feeling low today may not be due to a physical issue but rather the fact that their favourite football team lost a match! Similar systems using the digital pen have been used in UK in the past and more recently with midwifery teams in Portsmouth with the use of Blackberries.
Slightly less computer based was the use of a synthetic rubber material from gomuq that is used to make pen grippers, stop rulers sliding and stick onto switches – it really had the most amazing grip on all surfaces!
The day ended with a chance to play with the latest Robot developed in the deparment – it had recently walked from Tokyo to Kyoto at around 3 kilometers an hour but when you are walking alongside it that speed feels incredibly fast as it is so tiny! It carries two ordinary AA Panasonic battiers on its back and pulls another ten in a small cart!