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Journal cover: Journal of Assistive Technologies

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Online from: 2007

Subject Area: Health and Social Care

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SPAs (smart phone applications) – a new form of assistive technology

Document Information:
Title:SPAs (smart phone applications) – a new form of assistive technology
Author(s):Kevin Doughty, (Centre for Usable Home Technology, University of York, York, UK and Independent Telecare/Health and Assisted Living Consultant, Bryn Dedwydd, Caernarfon, UK)
Citation:Kevin Doughty, (2011) "SPAs (smart phone applications) – a new form of assistive technology", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 5 Iss: 2, pp.88 - 94
Keywords:Disabled people, Home care, Mobile communication systems, Technology
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/17549451111149296 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This paper is based on a presentation m-care – Setting Them Free, made during a workshop at the Telecare Service Association National Conference in London, November 17, 2010. The support of workshop delegates (and co-presenters John Mooney of Jontek, and Richard Foggie, of the BIS) are gratefully acknowledged by the author.

Purpose – This paper seeks to describe how the special built-in features of modern smart phones can be used to open up the potential of these devices for use as assistive technologies in supporting the independence and quality of life of vulnerable people.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper describes, through a number of relevant examples, how low-cost, downloadable applications enable the camera, the microphone, the accelerometer, the GPS receiver and the touch-screen, to be used for specific assistive purposes.

Findings – Smart phones and their applications are capable of providing useful support to a range of vulnerable groups including people with sensory disabilities, diabetics and people suffering from mental health problems, epilepsy or communication issues. It is likely that mobile care services using smart phones will be offered in tandem with home telecare services to extend the independence of the service user from the home to the outside environment.

Originality/value – The paper demonstrates how smart phone applications are capable of transforming a high-performance mobile phone into a number of different assistive devices that can improve the lives of millions of people with and without disability.

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