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29 July 2017

Aussie game tech to help stroke victims

David Hobbs and Max Hughes with OrbI prototypes at Flinders at Tonsley during the design and development process.

MILLIONS of stroke victims and cerebral palsy sufferers could benefit from a South Australian designed gaming controller that will this week be spruiked at a global conference in Switzerland.

Flinders University rehabilitation engineering lecturer David Hobbs will show off the latest version of his celebrated gaming controller OrbIT, called i-boll, at the Global Research, Innovation and Education in Assistive Technology (GREAT) Summit in Geneva this week.

The gaming control device, pictured, developed by Mr Hobbs and other SA designers and researchers, promises to change the lives of people with hand impairments, including children with cerebral palsy and stroke patients.

“Our system is accessible, improves hand function, increases children’s social participation, is scalable, and can be translated to other conditions,” Mr Hobbs said.

“People with hand impairments typically avoid using their non-dominant hand, leading to limb neglect.”

He said following positive trial results and significant end-user interest, his team is focusing its efforts on commercialising i-boll.

“i-boll has the same functionality as OrbIT but addresses issues relating to design in manufacture, the ability to interact with commercial games, cost and scalability,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Our multidisciplinary research team’s aim was to encourage active use of the neglected hand through fun and meaningful play, capitalising on the inherent desire and motivation people have to play computer games, particularly children and young adults.”

Introducing hands-free video gaming. Using an Emotiv EPOC neuro-headset, Rafael was able to control and play the Angry Birds video game. The head set uses mind control to enable users such as Rafael with the ability to control different devices; from PCs to smartphones. Credit: Rafael Mizrahi via Storyful

Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide while cerebral palsy is the most common childhood physical disability in the world, affecting more than 34,000 Australians, and more than 17 million people worldwide.

More than 150 of the world’s top researchers, innovators and educators in the field will present at the inaugural GREAT Summit this week.

The World Health Organisation invited Mr Hobbs to talk about his invention at the summit.

Forum organisers said assistive technology, which groups together assistive products spanning from eye glasses and wheelchairs to sophisticated automated systems, is a critical and cost-effective tool that can enable full participation in daily life for millions of people.

OrbIT has won a number of awards for “developments, improvements and innovations in service delivery to Assistive Technology users’’.

Originally published as Aussie game tech to help stroke victims

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