Children with communication difficulties are being aided in expressing themselves by the latest technology.
Scientists from the University of Dundee’s School of Computing have developed a software system that gathers information on what the child has been doing and helps them tell the story of their day.
The ‘How was school today?’ system is being seen as a breakthrough because children with severe motor disabilities and limited speech are currently often limited to one or two-word answers.
Lead researcher Dr Annalu Waller said: ‘We are trying to use the power of artificial intelligence to support these children in communicating more fluently.’
The technology utilises a sensor attached to the child’s wheelchair. Teachers or carers who meet the child use swipe cards to tell the system what they have been doing in order to track and record their school day.
A microphone is also available to help record more detailed information about what the child has been up to.
The software then generates simple sentences, using speech synthesis, describing the events of the child’s day. The child can also add their own comments, for example by pressing a smiley face button to indicate that someone they met was nice.
The system is the result of a year-long collaborative project between computing scientists from the Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen and Capability Scotland.