Technology being developed in Poland aims at transforming the lives of people with disabilities
A unique innovation project that aims at transforming the lives of people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities is being developed by scientists in Poland.
Called "Insension" this European Research Project could be life-changing for some.
Using and advancing technologies, like artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it provides them with a new way of communicating what they need.
For Justyna Tomczak, caring for her 8-year-old son Jeremi can be challenging.
He has multiple learning disabilities.
"It is more tiring than doing something, for me. To feed him, to change his clothes or whatever. But be all the time like, how are you, what about your head, do you need anything?” says Tomczak.
This new technology could provide Justyna with the extra support she needs whilst giving Jeremi more autonomy too.
How does it work?
It involves participants with disabilities, including Jeremi, being filmed at their kindergarten in Poznan, where the technology is being tested.
The video footage and audio data gathered creates a database for the artificial intelligence to build on.
"The camera looks at the person with a disability then this Artificial Intelligence component, this software component can identify this person," says Michal Kosiedowski, Insension co-ordinator and ICT researcher.
"They monitor the hands, arms, and the whole body, so for the gestures. And also they look at the little dots, or the points on the face, which are monitored and which are an indication of specific facial expression."
The system logs what it understands to be significant gestures and what they mean.
The plan is for it to then communicate the interpretation to a carer.
The director of the kindergarten, Justyna Tyrakowska Orzeszek says it will enable them to respond faster to the children in their care.
"When we work with a new child with complex troubles. Let’s say with some really profound impairments. We are not sure what we see so we are not sure what the child wants or what can we do for him or her. And technology can help us to understand the person," she says.
Participating in the project enables Justyna Tomczak to see how the system is progressing.
And she is looking forward to the day it can be widely used.
"It takes 3 months to prepare somebody that this person will stay at home alone with Jeremi.
"If it’s possible to make it, to understand him, without my help, without so many hours of explaining and showing, it will be great," says Tomczak.
Although the technology is still in its early stages, those behind it hope it will be available to all in the near future.
Helping parents, carers and children, like Jeremi, to lead a more independent life.