Research Seminar: Dr David Kerr & Dr Kaddour Bouazza-Marouf

Date: 6 March 2017

Time: 12:00 - 13:00

Location: Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Computing, Queen Mother Building

Host: Professor Annalu Waller

We are very pleased to announce this forthcoming seminar with Dr David Kerr and Dr Kaddour Bouazza-Marouf who are invited as guests of the Dundee AAC Group.

Title: A Breath-Controlled AAC System

Abstract: Communication disabilities are complex and often associated with neuromuscular disorders, which lead to difficulty in making purposeful gestures, as well as to circumstantial difficulties e.g. management in an intensive care unit etc. Currently available AAC device input modes range from paper based tools to highly sophisticated electronics using eye tracking or touch screens. These all require significant input from patients e.g. adequate muscle control and power to make the device work. They are also inherently slow, in terms of natural conversation rates. Breathing consists of inhalation and exhalation with a pause in between. A spontaneously breathing person can voluntarily breathe fast or slow or hold the breath i.e. can vary their normal breathing pattern. We describe our efforts to develop an AAC system to utilize these changes in breathing patterns and thus activate a speech synthesizer or other assistive devices. The system consists of an analogue pressure sensor and processing electronics, linked to a software analysis and pattern recognition system. Initial tests on a limited number of healthy volunteers have shown considerable promise in terms of performance and discriminatory ability. We are now seeking ways to develop the technology with the objective of eventually reaching narrative conversational speeds and to allow adaptability to a particular user’s circumstances and requirements.

Dr Kerr's Bio: David Kerr received his BSc degree in Physics with Engineering Science at the University of Hertfordshire and his MSc. degree in Optoelectronics from the University of Northumbria, UK. He joined the Mechanical Engineering department at Loughborough University in 1985, obtaining his PhD in Laser Metrology in 1992. Now a Senior Lecturer, his research includes Digital Image Processing, Computer Vision and Mechatronics

Dr Kaddour's Bio: Dr Kaddour Bouazza-Marouf is a Reader in Mechatronics in Medicine at Loughborough University, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FIMechE), Associate Editor of The IFAC Journal of Mechatronics, and Member of EPSRC Peer Review College. He spent 11 years in industry before joining Loughborough University in 1991; 10 years working offshore in the oil industry and one year as a Special Projects Engineer. At Loughborough University, he teaches robotics and control engineering, and has developed a specialism in assistive systems and devices for medical applications.



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