Designing, Fabricating, and Assessing the Efficacy of a BiPAP Mask-mounted Blink-based Communications System; Assessing the Viability of Open Source Alternatives to Current Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Augmentative and Alternative Communications Systems

Motta, Benjamin, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Allen, Timothy, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Bateman, Alec, Barron Associates, Inc.

My STS research analyzed to what degree current AAC technologies could be replicated with open-source components. I examined four AAC devices designed for use by ALS patients: the Tobii Dynavox I-Series, the Eyegaze Edge, the Control Bionics NeuroNode Trilogy, and the blink detection system developed in my technical portion. I dissected each device into its major functional units, and then conducted a search in both the literature and open-source code repositories to find suitable alternatives for each component. I discussed the spectrum of burdens faced by ALS patients, their caregivers, and their families, and how the financial impact of ALS could be mitigated through the development of low-cost, open-source alternative communication technologies. Finally, I conclude with a reminder of the great responsibility that engineers have to human society in creating systems that will uplift the most unfortunate, and how that responsibility can be addressed through contribution to open-source development. The technical project sought to build, from the ground up, a nearly fully open-source intentional blink communication system. My team deployed low-cost, high-quality hardware from Adafruit, Arducam, and OptiTrack to create a functional camera platform. A custom mount was digitally designed and 3D printed to attach the camera platform to the BiPAP mask upon which the camera would be mounted. We also investigated the literature to identify, test, and implement an open-source blink detection algorithm. The project aimed to test the final device, complete with a blink intentionality decoder, with healthy adult human subjects in the Charlottesville area.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
eye gaze, device, blink, algorithm, als

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Timothy Allen; Alec Bateman

STS Advisor: Richard Jacques

Technical Team Members: Kyle Caylor

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