The PIPPI project has ended

The pilot project, Projected Interactive PC control solution (PIPPI), was conducted in 2009 with support from IT Funk and the Norwegian Research Council. The project has developed and tested an interactive PC control solution for people with motor impairments.

Story by: - 30.11.2009

People with motor disorders often find it difficult to use standard computer equipment. The
pilot project, Projected Interactive PC control solution (PIPPI), has further developed and tested a new way to control the PC. Instead of using the mouse, users with motor impairments can control the PC by pressing a finger on a projected PC screen on a table top.

The main goal of the pilot project was to:

Develop and test the suitability of a projected interactive PC-control (PIP) solution for people with motor impairments.

During the course of previous projects MediaLT has come into contact with several PC users with motor disorders. Throughout the PIKT project (Parkinson's ICT challenges, Project. 188798) an early prototype of a PIP solution was tested for drawing. It soon became clear that this PC control solution should be further investigated as an aid for PC users with motor disorders. We have found that there is a lack of appropriate equipment for this group of users, who experience particular difficulty when mouse clicking has to be combined with a high degree pointer control.

The PIPPI project has focused on improving the PIP prototype and in particular the pointing device in the solution. In addition the solution's suitability has been examined closer. Which users will benefit from this solution? In which situations is it most appropriate?

Just like the other children

The PIP solution was developed through a series of 17 tests with 7 children aged 6-15 years, with a variety of motor disorders. The solution was used for games and drawing where several of the children experienced that testing was fun, and that they were able to master freehand drawing without assistance. They especially enjoyed drawing on the table "just like the other children". For the first time one of the testers, a teenage girl, was able to draw completely on her own!

Three people with Parkinson's disease also tested the PIP solution. The focus of this testing was to see if the solution could become a fully-fledged alternative to the traditional computer mouse. Testing showed that the PIP-like solution can be used for tasks such as e-mail, reading online newspapers and general navigation. There are however challenges associated with inaccurate targeting mechanisms.

Testing in school

The solution was then tested over 7 weeks, a so called long term study, in school by one of the children in the previous testing. The child has Cerebral Palsy. The solution was mainly used in the subject Drawing, Design and Colour.

This testing showed that the PIP solution can be used, managed and maintained by an outside institution without the need for extensive training. Management and maintenance, in this case by the person responsible for the school's ICT system, required only basic ICT skills. And the end user needed only basic knowledge to be able to successfully use the solution.

There were also varying demands for screen size. Some users preferred the screen surface to be large, with large pressure areas, so that it was easy to target menus and buttons. Other users found that a large flat screen required greater hand movements which were exhausting and stressful for the muscles. A positive feature of PIP solution is that the projected computer screen can be scaled to the size that most suits the user. This degree of individual customization is not possible with the traditional touch screen.

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