InterSpeech 2010

Sound-based Assistive Technology Supporting "Seeing", "Hearing" and "Speaking" for the Disabled and the Elderly

Tohru Ifukube (Research Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, Japan)
With a rapid increase of a rate of the elderly, disabled people also have been increasing in Japan. Over a period of 40 years, I have developed a basic research approach of assistive technology, especially for people with seeing, hearing, and speaking disorder. Although some of the required tools have been practically used for the disabled in Japan, I have experienced how insufficient a function of the tools is for supporting the sensory and communication disorders. Moreover, I have been impressed by how amazingly potential ability of the human brain works in order to compensate the disorders. In my key note speech, I will show some compensation abilities formed by "brain plasticity", and also show extraordinary ability of some animals such as voice imitation of mynah bird and echolocation of bats. Furthermore, I will introduce six assistive tools borne by solving mystery of the compensation function and the extraordinary animals. Finally, I will emphasize that these assistive tools will contribute to design a new human interface for robots that may support the elderly as well as the disabled.