New App Can Help People Communicate with Head-Tracking Technology

April 21, 2020

There are a number of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices available that can help people with limited mobility or speech communicate with others. Thinking they can be expensive or hard to get, WillowTree team members created a mobile app to achieve the same, Vocable AAC.

What is Vocable AAC?

The Vocable AAC mobile app uses head movement tracking to allow users to select options that will be spoken for them.

How does Vocable AAC work?

The app is supported on a number of iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Once downloaded, the app will ask for permission to take pictures and record videos, and after that the app is ready to use.

There is a cursor that follows the user's head movements. The user guides the cursor to what they wanted "clicked," leave it for a moment, and the option will be selected and spoken.

Users who are able to and prefer to may turn off the head-tracking option and can touch the screen to select phrases or use the app's keyboard.

There are several categories of phrases, such as General, Basic Needs, Personal Care, Conversation, Environment, Feelings, and more.

Who is Vocable AAC for?

Vocable AAC is for anyone who would benefit from using it. It can be especially useful for people who have disabilities or conditions that impact their ability or comfort to communicate verbally, such as stroke, amyotrophic lateral scleosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), autism, and spinal injuries.

Roughly 7.5 million Americans have trouble using their voices, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

The rise of AAC accessibility

AAC software and equipment have been around since the 1960s, becoming more popular and specialized in the 1980s with the further development of portable AAC typewriters and boards.

Fast-forward to today and AAC has become smaller, faster, more portable, and more affordable.

People are finding greater independence through advancements in technology like eye tracking.

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