Tools for perception

November 23, 2008

I spent some of the week in Chicago for American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) national convention.

I saw this at the convention hall and I thought it was a fitting thing to have in the “Windy City.”

Anemometer in the Windy City

Anemometer in the Windy City

This got me thinking about how our tools affect our perceptions.

Just like when all you’ve got is a hammer and everything looks like a nail, if you’ve got an anemometer, you become very aware of the wind. People with cars that display fuel efficiency find themselves driving differently.

If you’ve got Boardmaker, suddenly PCS symbols are very tempting, even though they aren’t ideal many times.

Can we make this work for us somehow?

AAC devices are powerful computers and are used to augment the capabilities of the people who carry them. What else can they do? Can they be used to augment input as well as expression? Extend the senses and awareness of the user? What if there was something like Dragon Naturally Speaking to create a transcript of a speaking conversation partner’s contribution to the conversation? At the very least, this would provide multiple input modalities and give a user more time to process the language. But that might populate a word bank for the user’s conversational turn.

  • Sound level meter. (Auto volume adjust).
  • RSS feed makes the device aware of sports scores, weather, and news in real time.
  • Temperature sensor, barometer, hygrometer etc.
  • Light meter.
  • Camera automatically takes periodic photos for a slideshow as a daily journal of places you went.

Before you think that augmented senses are something strange and Borglike, remember that you don’t think anything of having a portable device that tells you the time and date, you even wear it like a Borg.

I don’t actually know where I’m going with this. Comments are open for suggestions of augmented input applications of AAC tech.

One Response to “Tools for perception”

  1. alltogether Says:

    Lucky it was not too windy! Cold though.

    I think what your talking about is not if, but when. It will be interesting how we can treat certain types of environmental input like “vision”.

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