Touch Screen Interaction and Essential Tremor

Recently, Rebecca posted on the topic of Accessibility and the Smart Phone and how “touch and swipe” technology on smart phones affects how people with essential tremor (ET) use such devices.

Today, I saw an article about a new developing technology by Qeexo called FingerSense and TapSense that may or may not make smart phones easier depending on the degree of ET severity. Researcher Chris Harrison invented software that expands interaction on smart phones from simple touch to also recognize different kinds of taps. FingerSense technology allows screens to know how the finger is being used for input: fingertip, knuckle or nail.

FingerSense Overview | Qeexo.com from Qeexo on Vimeo.

This refined level of touch on screens may present a challenge for people with ET, if this technology is incorporated into devices.

According to an article in Fast Company, Harrison’s team is in talks with Android handset manufacturers to integrate FingerSense into their phones. FingerSense requires an extra bit of hardware in order to work–an acoustic sensor that can recognize the unique vibration patterns that distinguish among fingertip, fingernail, and knuckle taps. Which means you can’t just download FingerSense from Google Play and magically give your Galaxy Nexus a next-generation user interface–yet.

“We are looking to partner with device makers to integrate this sensor, which our software needs,” Harrison explains.

FingerSense’s two-handed touch screen input gestures seem much more useful for tablets,where two-handed interaction seems likely and practical especially for people with ET.

 

Settled

Last week the IETF moved into new offices just down the hall from our prior office space. We have a bit more elbow room, extra storage space, and room to grow in the future.

For those of you who tried to reach us last week while our phones were down during the move, thanks for your patience. We’re back up and running.

We’ll post some photos of our new and old office space later this week.

As you prepare for Thanksgiving (for those celebrating the holiday), we hope you travel safely and give thanks for the people in your life.

We’re thankful that we can reach so many people with ET each year and learn from your experiences so that we can better serve others.

Best wishes and Happy Holidays.

Accessibility and the Smart Phone

Touch ScreenIt seems like touchscreen technology is here to stay, which is a really problem for those with hand tremor. Many smartphone users prefer a tactile keyboard, but are finding that they are not a common feature in newer phones, as manufacturers are moving more to touch and swipe navigation. So what’s a person with ET to do? Don’t overlook the power of assistive technology!

First thing to do is adjust your touchscreen sensitivity. You can do this by going to your Menu, and then select Settings. Under Settings you will see an Accessibility option where you can enable your pre-installed options. You will also find keyboard options under Settings. Review your options and play around with it to find what works best for you. Not finding what you’re looking for? Go to your app store. There are free and low cost options for both iPhone and Android.

Many users suggest forgoing touchscreens and keyboards altogether, preferring instead to use voice to text software (Siri, Vlingo, IDEAL, etc.).¬† Voice to text allows you to just say what you want to type and the software will do the keying for you. Some apps will even read back what you’ve said to ensure everything is just as you want. Dial the phone, send a text or even search the web, all with the sound of your voice?you only have to be able to touch the microphone button.

Don’t let your tremor hold you back from experiencing all the wonders that new technology can bring to your fingertips. Utilize accessibility features on your smartphone, Kindle, tablet and PC. Make your technology work FOR YOU.