ASSIST project video phone application

The video phone application is built on top of existing commercial packages that handle the low-level video encoding/decoding and transmissions. This enabled us to focus our design attention more toward the interface issues involved rather than reinventing the wheel. The design paradigm we chose to follow can be summarized as:

Simplicity, clarity and modality

  • First, the interface has to be simple. Cluttering the interface with extra features that will not be used by the users would only cause confusion and intimidation. Menus and buttons that are not relevant to the functionality of video phone were hidden away from the user.
  • Secondly, the interface needs to be clear to an elder. Font employed by most instant messenger systems is in general too small. Our design uses large font size as well as large picture IDs of their contacts such that they can be easily identified and selected by the user.
  • Finally, we use different modality input to the system to overcome elder’s various physical deficiencies. For instance, for people with difficulties using the mouse as a pointing device, a touch-screen is overlaid on top of the monitor to allow pointing directly using the user’s hand. For people with motion disabilities, an alternative input modality can offered such that they can use heir voices to control the application.

VideoPhone Screenshot 1 VideoPhone Screenshot 2 VideoPhone Screenshot 3

The video phone application can be used whenever communication with the outside world is required. For instance, elders can use it to engage face-to-face conversations with family and friends to reduce sense of isolation and related symptoms such as depression. In time of crisis such as falling, the video phone application is integrated with the fall detection system such that emergency call will be placed directly. A priority list can be specified by the user a priori in case of at the time of occurrence, one of the contacts such as the user’s neighbor, close relative or doctor is absent. 911 can be listed as a last resort. The system will scan through the list, and place calls until someone is reached. This paper will discuss extensions to these applications as a mobile manipulator is integrated into our system.

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