Friday, October 24, 2008

I recently bought a viglen MPC, and installed Xubuntu it using some very good instructions from Andy SC. I added a USB dongle for wireless, and another one for bluetooth (for later experiments). I then linked my current cost meter to it, to try out some code from Dale Lane's blog. I first needed to install a number of pre-reqs, so I thought I would document them here.

First, I expanded the into a directory, and ran the code:
sudo python currentcost.pyc

This gave an ImportError for module wx. Although I tried installing easy_install, this did not install anything successfully for me, so I followed these instructions to install the wxpython modules. Next, the following commands allowed the other pre-reqs to be installed:
sudo apt-get install python-numpy
sudo apt-get install python-matplotlib
sudo apt-get install python-serial
sudo apt-get install python-simplejson
sudo apt-get install python-pysqlite2

The application then worked! To determine which port to use, I typed:
dmesg | grep tty

The third line of the output said "converter now attached to ttyUSB0"
When you connect, the port should therefore be: /dev/ttyUSB0

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to communicate if you can barely move

My wife works with people who have had head injuries or strokes, who cannot move from the neck down and sometimes cannot talk; some are mentally active, which must be even more frustrating. Even in this day of great technology, letters are drawn on paper, and letter by letter the person moves their head from one side to the other side to indicate if this is the next letter in the sentence. As you can imagine, this takes a very long time, and it cannot be used to initiate a conversation.

Recently, I've been playing with a very good piece of software aimed at eye tracking called Dasher. This allows letters, which move in from the right of the screen, to be selected one by one by moving the mouse up and down and gradually forming a sentance. It is also predictive, so if for example you have selected H and then e, llo would be close together. It runs on multiple operating systems.

Secondly, my colleage Dave CJ has created a fantastic python script to control the mouse pointer on a Ubuntu PC using the accelerometer on the Nokia N95 via bluetooth.

So... by combining the two, I can tilt the N95 from side to side, to move the mouse on the PC and select letters in a sentence. OK, so balancing a phone on your head looks slightly stupid, but if it helps open up a means of communication without any specialist equipment, or the help of someone else, it surely must be a good thing.