As can be seen in Figure 15 ABC System (Result 6) was initially conceived to be composed by 4 independent and interoperable modules—'BNCI processing module' (Result 2); 'Affective module' (Result 3), 'Health monitoring module' (Result 4) and 'Augmented communication tool' (Result 5)—, apart from being fed of the user-centred methodologies (Result 1) aimed at end users involvement.
Figure 15. ABC System scheme according to initially planned results for the ABC project.
Nevertheless, this first outline has been adapted in accordance to the intermediate and final outcomes achieved along the life span of the ABC project. Namely 11 exploitable results have been finally obtained, of which 9 come from the initial planning (Figure 1) and the other 2 are new outcomes as a consequence of the work performed during the project execution. Moreover, 2 different service provisions are expected to be commercialized from taking advantage of the augmented communication tool in the ABC System.
Table 1 shows an overview of the new exploitable results (NER) that form the defined ABC System, including the connection among former results and new ones. As can be seen in this list, the deployment of the ABC project has triggered the development of an increased number of outcomes in comparison with the firstly planned results. On this regard, 'BNCI processing module' (R2) has evolved for an enhanced Human Control Interface (HCI) of the system, by counting on BCI algorithms (NR4) devoted to process the EEG signals of the users, in addition to an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) solution—which includes software (NR1), hardware (NR2) and peripheral (NR3)—developed to manage the communicator-based system through head movements. The affective and health control modules (R3 and R4) are both based on PLUX smart sensors (NR6 and NR8) and specific software programmes (NR5 and NR7) to monitor physical and mental conditions of the end users during the interaction with the ABC device. PLUX monitoring sensors have been created under the operation of AccessPLUX (NR9), which is also compatible with BCI and IMU software. On its behalf, the NR10—as a part of the augmented communication tool (R5)—represents an application to generate new particular thematic content that will be required by end users in certain daily life contexts (e.g. to visit a fast food establishment and place an order). This Library Generator, by providing more communication resources for end-users, will feed the Communicator-based ABC System (NR11) which, at the end, is the key core of the foreseen augmented communication tool (R5) and integrated ABC System (R6).
Table 1. Final exploitable results of the ABC project and their relationship with former defined results.
On the other hand, the Communicator-based ABC system (NR11) and the Library Generator application (NR10) have led to the development of two professional services to be performed by AVAPACE. First of them ('communicator adaptation' service) is intended to perform particular adaptations of NR11 for each individual end user interested in the innovative communication device, since it is necessary a suitable configuration of the system to properly meet the user specific requirements in line with his/her disability, health state and so forth. The second provision ('creation of librarie's service) is based on the generation on demand of new libraries with the NR10, in order to increase the communication means that are at user's disposal, due to the communicator-based ABC System is only expected to include libraries for some basic activities of daily living (ADLs) in the default model to be marketed.
Socio economic impact
IMU head mounted
From the survey—conducted during the project—to better know the needs of the main target segment (persons with CP) in Spain, it can be deduced that there exists a great chance to implement this kind of technology in entities providing support to persons suffering from CP, due to: (1) there are users that do not have any solution to access to a PC; (2) users require multifunctional solutions (e.g. not only to get control of the computer, but improve communication ways, amuse themselves, etc.; (3) there is a lack of usage of this devices as a result of misinformation, frequent failure and high cost.
The novel IMU peripheral is intended to broaden the e-inclusion of CP people by better accessing and using their personal devices (providing them more autonomy), through a low cost, intuitive and comprehensive solution in order to fulfill the key demands of this collective.
The optimization of the BCI system software has brought more adequate interaction of CP users with their environment, augmenting the capabilities of mobility, communication, home control, grasping, emotion assertiveness, playing, learning and information accessing. The system is not only beneficial to people with DCP, but also to other groups with CP or people with severe motor disabilities. Thanks to the considerations of DCP or CP user needs and expectations, a more efficient BCI task oriented success performing system has been accomplished, with optimization of elapsed success task completion time.
The AM provides the possibility to DCP users to better understand and express their emotions, allowing for social integration. Additionally, it is very helpful in all kind of tasks, such as playing, learning, getting involved in a specific activity, where the DCP user is now able to express simple emotions that also makes more effective his/her involvement in that activity. Finally, how well DCP users are able to manifest their emotions increases self-confidence, and as a consequence it also improves their personal autonomy and their well-being.
The HM contributes to improve the health awareness of the user and make possible DCP users the chance to stay at home alone and secure, enabling their capability to self-manage minor issues and alert third persons in case of critical situations.
This solution also provides the possibility of relieving relatives from continuous monitoring of the user. allow them to rest and improving the quality of the care given..
Library generator software
Most CP users are 'oversupported' because family and caregivers often behaves like they were unable to think in a rational way, so these 'supporter's make all decisions for them. However, the main problem in most of the cases is the lack of a suitable communication channel, which may be solved with communication input interfaces such as the Communicator-based ABC System and its communication content libraries. These tools allow an easy and comfortable communication—for example, by transmitting user messages through multimodal output channels (visual and auditory)—, ensuring as well a high communication capability. Enabled communication will thus enhance the capability for decision making of CP persons, even including the ones that are unable to communicate.
Communicator based ABC System
The Communicator allows DCP users to have an efficient (low number of errors and high bit rate) and affective communication. It represents an important device for DCP children, since by using it they are able to achieve basic developmental skills in their life, avoiding current underestimated assessment. The tool will also make easier to transform 'intention's into 'action's for DCP people and other segments of interest (i.e. persons with no—or very low—motor control and severe speech disorders, as well as children with development disorders), considering the emotional content, increasing their social integration and control-over-their-environment, thus, improving their independence and quality of life. Moreover, this communication software is adaptable allowing a fitting to the user needs according to their skills and capabilities along their development process.
In summary, the ABC System—mainly based on the Communicator—clearly contributes to increase user's capabilities. It makes daily activities easier and improves their quality of life by enhancing user's interaction with their environment, both physical and socially.
Dissemination of results
Dissemination has been designed to cover three different aspects:
- Mass media
Scientific communication has been the most active in the project and should be maintained in this status for the rest of 2015, since many results aren't yet published. In total, 24 scientific contributions have been submitted to peer reviewed publications. Besides 18 presentations or posters in congresses and conferences have been accepted.
With respect the mass media: More than 20 impacts in the general press have been achieved, plus a radio interview in Radio Nacional de España (the public radio broadcasting service in Spain).
Also AVAPACE organized a public demonstration in an open act with the ABC system, oriented to increase awareness of Cerebral Palsy among general public.
The HONDA award was won in 2014 with the IMU approach as an interface control. A Spanish patent has been applied for the same system.