Hacker Uses A Kinect To Help His Mom Email After A Stroke

Here’s a heartwarming story for a Hackathon Saturday: Chad Ruble’s mother suffers from aphasia due to a stroke. She hasn’t been able to use a keyboard for years because she is simply unable to recognize text. In order to help her, he built a Kinect-enabled interface that lets her move her hand around a series of simple icons – happy, sad, upset, etc. – and other icons that signify degree.

After swiping around the screen a bit, she was finally able to send an email using a few simple hand motions. She was overjoyed.

The first step was coming up with a visual “dashboard” to help her compose simple messages. Each icon is associated with a specific emotion, which can then be qualified by an amount. I used a Kinect with the SimpleOpenNI library for Processing along with some gesture recognition code from Matt Richardson to track the position of my mom’s hand. I then used a sample Processing sketch from Daniel Shiffman to generate and send the email by using the green arrow button. The red “X” resets the screen.

It’s great to see hacks like these actually helping folks who haven’t been able to do certain things due to physical handicaps. The best technology is technology that changes people’s lives and this is one of the purest examples of that ideal I’ve seen in a while.

via Make