Submitted by Britt McWilliams, Imagine! Leadership Development Group 2017-18
Early in November, the Leadership Development Group attended the 17th Annual Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology. According to their website, “the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities works to catalyze and integrate advances in technology that promote the quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities and their families.”
One guest speaker at this year’s conference was Professor Mischa Dohler, Director at Centre for Telecommunications Research, Kings College London. Professor Dohler’s keynote presentation was on “The Internet of Skills- Democratizing Labor and Empowering Humans.” He talked about how the current internet available is able to transmit information through video and audio but unable to transmit information through touch.
Kings College in London is working with colleagues globally to pioneer the “tactile internet” which will allow users to transmit touch in real time. Professor Dohler wore a haptic glove during his presentation, capable of recording muscle movement and sensing touch through the internet. One vision for this technology is that end users will be able to shop on Amazon by 2020 using the glove to feel what they are purchasing online.
Using the glove and Internet of Skills, people could perform a variety of tasks remotely. So, how does it work? A person (teacher) would be able to put on the haptic glove (exoskeleton) and perform a task, then upload that information onto the internet of skills database, allowing someone else to learn a task from across the globe by putting on a glove and downloading the information. The sensing glove, capable of recording hand movements, would allow users to mimic the teacher’s movements in order to learn a skill. For example, a teacher on one end could wear the glove to record themselves playing the piano, allowing a user on the other end to pick up a glove and learn the piano using the recorded hand movements of the teacher.
The Internet of Skills’ application possibilities do not stop at learning to play an instrument. A surgeon could teach a group of students to perform robotic surgery. Doctors may be able to treat patients from thousands of miles away, potentially in remote areas where medical skills could be lacking. This sensory glove may provide someone with limited fine motor function the ability to perform a task they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. By expanding on haptic technology already available, Professor Dohler believes that the Internet of Skills will democratize labor in the same way that the internet has made knowledge available to everyone.
View a keynote presentation from Mischa Dohler here.
Brodie Schulze, an employee with Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source and member of this year’s Leadership Development Group, gave another noteworthy presentation during a morning breakout session alongside Professor Melinda Piket-May of the University of Colorado’s Engineering Department.
For several years, Imagine! has collaborated with the CU’s Engineering Department to create a variety of assistive technology projects that aid increased independence for the people we serve. Each semester, Imagine! presents Professor Piket-May’s freshman engineering class with a list of assistive technology projects to choose from. The students work in groups of four on a project of their choosing. Instead of purchasing text books, each student chips in $75, giving the groups $300 toward completing the project.
This collaboration not only allows Imagine! to overcome funding restraints and limited product availability, but also provides CU Engineering Students the unique opportunity to work closely with the individuals we serve. Throughout the semester, the students work face to face with the individual to develop a personalized product of adaptive technology, aimed at supporting increased independence for that individual. Past assistive technology projects have included a mechanical whiffle ball bat, a wheelchair Wii adapter, and a wheelchair laundry carrier.
See a project presentation from CU students here.