New technology will help OAPs

RESEARCHERS in Martlesham are today developing new computer technology which could unlock the wonders of the internet for a generation of OAPs.Experts at BT's research hub Adastral Park are working on a system designed for older people with conditions like arthritis and poor sight as well as those who have resisted the uptake of standard PCs and laptops.

RESEARCHERS in Martlesham are today developing new computer technology which could unlock the wonders of the internet for a generation of OAPs.

Experts at BT's research hub Adastral Park are working on a system designed for older people with conditions like arthritis and poor sight as well as those who have resisted the uptake of standard PCs and laptops.

The device uses technology known as an accelerometer, similar to that used in Nintendo's Wii entertainment system, by allowing users to simply tilt a screen to select a function rather than using a keyboard or mouse.

It has been development with a tablet PC in mind but can also be used with laptops.


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David Chatting, one of the researchers working within BT's Broadband Applications Research Centre at Martlesham, said: “It's about designing something as simple as possible for an older person who is not specifically disabled but maybe their sight isn't as good as it was or maybe they've got a bit of arthritis or they just have some inhibitions about using a computer.

“The idea is providing access to broadband content in a way that is as simple as possible.”

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The BT accelerometer device fits into a standard off-the-shelf tablet PC. With the accelerometer attached to the PC via its USB port, the user can hold the screen in their hands and tilt it toward them to select a function or to the right or left to scroll forward or back.

Depending on the software being used, a single tilt in any direction will tell the computer what function is needed.

And, in a throwback to the days of the Etch-a-sketch drawing toy, just give the screen a quick shake and your screen is cleared and you are returned to the main menu.

A BT team has been working on the accelerometer system since last summer and it is now likely to be put through a user trial. If the trial is a success and BT decides to take the device to the development stage, its designers say it could revolutionise the way older people access new technologies. The team also believes it could have wider uses, including in industry.

Mr Chatting said: “These devices are a few pounds each. They can be quite widely used these days.

“The hardware inside it is already affordable and I can only see that getting cheaper.”

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