Speech system linked to mobiles

A small UK company has developed a computer system to help people without speech or full movement to communicate through mobile technology.

Time Is Ltd typically specialises in satellite control systems. However, it also developed computer software for people with motor neurone disease.

The JayBee system enables them to construct sentences and transforms the sentences into speech.

It predicts words and entire sentences, and the user simply needs to either select or adapt the sentence by moving the on-screen cursor with a pre-determined movement.

This movement could be as minimal as opening or closing the mouth, or the blink of an eye.

Time is Ltd managing director Ian Schofield told eHealth Insider the company has now entered a partnership with mobile marketing and communications company Txtlocal to extend the functionality.

“The idea was ‘how can we make it so that these folks can call for assistance or get in contact with their friends?’ We already had email, but that’s not really instant.”

The answer has been to include an interface that enables users to send constructed sentences to mobile phones.

Responses from carers or friends are then loaded back into the JayBee system for the user to read.

The system with mobile functionality has been available for download for two weeks.

Schofield said the Motor Neurone Disease Association is in the process of trialling it with ten of its members.

The company would also like to introduce the system to the NHS, but Schofield said: “It is a painstaking problem getting new systems into the health arena.

“‘We have talked to the NHS, every clinician who sees it thinks that it’s marvellous, but then it hits the bureaucracy.”

The cost of the system, including the mobile functionality, is £250 for a one year licence, or £350 for a lifetime license.

Schofield said the next step is to work on software which will pick up on minute eye movements, which would enable people with locked-in syndrome to communicate.

Last updated: 14 July 2011 15:55

Shanna Crispin

15 July 2011

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