Giving A Voice To The Voiceless

A new way to help those without a voice communicate.
Marsha Lewis, Contributing Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- The world is full of ways to communicate -- from talking in person to talking through a computer. But, despite the multitude of conversational mediums, some people remain unable to communicate.

Paul Pauca, a computer science professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, knows this firsthand. Pauca's son Victor has a rare genetic disorder that affects his ability to speak.

"If you're not able to communicate to express your needs, it can be very frustrating and maddening," said Pauca. 

So, Pauca decided to help his son out. Victor now uses apps developed by Pauca on a mobile device to communicate. With a simple touch of a button, he's got a voice.

For those without the ability to operate a device, Pauca developed a hands-free communication device that uses a sensor to detect simple head movements.

The device has a gyroscope that detects the movement of your head and transmits  this information through Bluetooth technology to an android device at a rate of 100 times a second.

"Giving them the ability to express a need can immediately reduce frustration," said Pauca.

Pauca is now working with patients who have cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He said that the goal is to make the system smaller by replacing bulky sensors with miniaturized versions that could resemble something like a nicotine patch.

The apps could make communicating easier for millions of people.


Author Bio & Story Archive

Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California.  She has won 11 National Telly Awards and nine Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.

I’ve dedicated my time to reporting and producing stories focused on medical, science and technology. I created a nationally award winning series dedicated to promoting women and their great accomplishments.  Now I’ve taken that expertise outside the traditional TV news format and broadened the viewership to people around the world.