Toy hackathon helps children with severe disabilities to communicate

  • October 21, 2022
Toy hackathon helps children with severe disabilities to communicate

Pradipta Biswas has led a first of its kind toy hackathon to help children with severe disabilities to communicate through eye-controlled interfaces.

A first of its kind toy hackathon has been organised by a Gates Cambridge Scholar to help children with severe disabilities communicate with the world.

Pradipta Biswas [2006], associate professor at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing and associate faculty at Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, is behind the hackathon that took place at the institute in October.

The aim was to help children with severe speech and motor impairment learn to use cyber physical systems and associated eye gaze controlled human robot interfaces in their education and rehabilitation.  It also helped researchers see what new uses the software could be put to. For example, teaching users with severe motor impairment to draw, paint and type using a low-cost robotic manipulator and personalised interface.

The hackathon was the first of its kind to be based around users of assistive technology. All the participants underwent training with software that has an eye gaze-controlled interface. 

The children used toys such as drones, robotic arms and remotely-controlled toy cars with a remote connection to a laptop which can read their eye movement. The event builds on research led by Pradipta which began in 2016 with work on creating virtual keyboards on screen that are controlled by eye movements through a laptop camera the recognises and interprets the direction in which the person is looking, using artificial intelligence.

The reason toys are used is to insert an element of playfulness into the process which encourages children to engage, something that has been particularly important due to the negative impact of Covid on learning.

Pradipta has been working with the India-EU ICT Standardisation Collaboration Project as part of the work.

Latest News

Gates Cambridge collaboration leads to re-interpretation of ancient text

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars have joined forces to correct a mistake that has persisted in classical scholarship for over 400 years. Daniel Hanigan [2019] and Grant Kynaston [2019] have just published Autopsy and didactic authority: rethinking the prologue of the Periodos to Nicomedes, an article in Classical Quarterly, the leading journal in Classical Studies, in […]

Widening access through MOOCs

People without college degrees perform better at entry-level MOOCs specifically designed to increase access to university enrolment, researchers have found. The study, The  Promise  of  MOOCs  Revisited?  Demographics  of  Learners  Preparing  for University, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Mike Meaney [2016], has just been published in the Journal of Learning Analytics. It is the first time […]

Scholar on Clinton Foundation initiative panel

Gates Cambridge Scholar Shadrack Frimpong has spoken on a panel chaired by former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Clinton Global Initiative University. Shadrack participated in a session on 4th March in Nashville, chaired by Clinton, on Protecting the Rights of Girls and Women During Conflict and Uncertainty. He spoke about the need to combine academic […]

Peace through gender equality

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has co-authored a book on how best to engage more men in gender equality. William McInerney is co-author of Das Buch, Das Jeder Mann Lesen Sollte: In 4 Schritten zum Feministen [The Book that Every Man Should Read: 4 Steps to Becoming a Feminist], which has just been released in Germany. […]