UW Generates ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ with Vocal Joystick That Uses Voice to Surf the Web
The Internet offers wide appeal to people with disabilities. But many of those same people find it frustrating or impossible to use a handheld mouse. Software developed at the University of Washington (UW) provides an alternative using one of the oldest and most versatile modes of communication: the human voice.
Vocal Joystick detects sounds 100 times a second and instantaneously turns that sound into movement on the screen. Different vowel sounds dictate the direction: “ah,” “ee,” “aw” and “oo” and other sounds move the cursor one of eight directions. Users can transition smoothly from one vowel to another, and louder sounds make the cursor move faster. The sounds “k” and “ch” simulate clicking and releasing the mouse buttons.
Versions of Vocal Joystick exist for browsing the Web, drawing on a screen, controlling a cursor and playing a video game. A version also exists for operating a robotic arm, and Jeffrey Bilmes, a UW associate professor of electrical engineering, believes the technology could be used to control an electronic wheelchair.
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