Notes on Twelve Healthcare and Accessibility Technology Papers

October 8, 2008

Rory and I presented twelve papers to our Ubiquitous Computing class yesterday.

We looked at technology to help cancer patients, the elderly, the deaf, the blind and children.

Here is a collection of notes about the papers.


Opportunities for Pervasive Computing in Chronic Cancer Care: Gillian R. Hayes, Gregory D. Abowd, John S. Davis, Marion L. Blount, Maria Ebling, Elizabeth D. Mynatt

Patients go through a cancer journey. It has five stages.

  1. Screening & Diagnosis
  2. Information-seeking
  3. Acute care and treatment
  4. No Evidence of Disease
  5. Chronic care & Disease management

Opportunities for Technology:

  • Self-examination instruction & reminder on mobile phones
  • Location-aware reminder/notification of professional screening opportunities
  • Automatic deployment and modification of technology as abilities change over time e.g. monitor typing and turn on accessibility features automatically
  • Sensing changes in physiological state for JIT medication reminders
  • At home tests during treatment
  • Capture & Access during Information-seeking
  • Communication of disease status to support network

Discussion items:

  • Identify new applications of technology for patients?
  • Identify other diseases with journeys?


Digital Family Portraits: Supporting Peace of Mind for Extended Family Members: Elizabeth D. Mynatt, Jim Rowan, Annie Jacobs, Sarah Craighill

A digital family portrait is an ambient display of health, environment and activity indicators for independent elderly people. It is intended to be placed in a caregiver’s home to convey information that would be casually noted if the caregiver and elder lived together.

Digital Family Portraits Field Trial: Support for Aging in Place: Jim Rowan, Elizabeth D. Mynatt

A field trial of the DFP with sensors instead of wizard-of-oz techniques.
Result: Emotional benefit for both parties (Not generalizable!)

Some notes:

  • Tradeoff between utility and acceptance: More utility with more information, but harder acceptance due to privacy concerns
  • Mention of an internet teapot: Tells relatives when tea is made!
  • Occasional malfunctions are good! (Like a system test…)
  • Mondays are like Mondays: For trend detection, better to compare a Monday with a preceding Monday, not the previous Sunday.

Discussion: How much privacy should elders give up to maintain autonomy?

Technology for Care Networks of Elders: Sunny Consolvo, Peter Roessler, Brett E. Shelton, Anthony LaMarca, Bill Schilit, Sara Bly

Computer-Supported Coordinated Care: Use of technology to help a network of caregivers coordinate care activities. Caregivers suffer lowered quality-of-life due to problems coordinating care for a person.
The CareNet display is a touchscreen device to help local members of an elder’s care network coordinate care. It provides access to information such as meals, medications, outings, activities, moods, falls and a calendar. (Like a CRM but for a family member.)

There is a need to focus on the person and the (harsh) realities of elder care.

A system needs to maintain privacy for all members of a care network.

Embedded Assessment: Overcoming Barriers to Early Detection with Pervasive Computing: Margaret Morris, Stephen S. Intille, Jennifer S. Beaudin

The goal of Embedded Assessment is early detection of problems via pervasive sensors & anomaly detection.

An EA implementation

  • Integrates monitoring, compensation and prevention.
  • Is extremely personalized

New Perspectives on Ubiquitous Computing from Ethnographic Study of Elders: Margaret Morris, Jay Lundell, Eric Dishman, Brad Needham

Principles of systems for the elderly:

  • Early detection with awareness of denial as obstacle
  • Tremendous variability between patients even with the same disorder. Variability within a given patient over time. Need for adaptable systems.
  • Need to catalyze social interactions (which help with exercise, too)
  • Dedicated computers are undesirable… embedded interfaces are best. Leverage familiar interfaces. Use procedural, not declarative memory.


  • Opportunity hunting: Displays for when is a good time call, for coffee, for a meal, etc.?
  • Face recognition rehearsal for light memory-loss
  • Adaptive prompts in the environment for sequential routines such as preparing tea for significant memory loss
  • For severe cognitive impairment, activity tracking system that notifies caregiver of status with adaptive, contextual reminders.


Grow and Know: Understanding Record-Keeping Needs for Tracking the Development of Young Children: Julie A. Kientz, Rosa I. Arriaga, Marshini Chetty, Gillian R. Hayes, Jahmeilah Richardson, Shwetak N. Patel, Gregory D. Abowd

Tracking development of children is important so developmental delays can be identified and treated early. This is a challenge for parents.

  • Value for some parents in tracking
  • Other parents don’t want tracking
  • Concerns over nanny privacy

Some challenges:

  • Data desired to give to nannies, pediatricians and other doctors, schools.
  • Tracking milestones and progress.
  • Tracking the right data as tracking all data is impossible.

Some lessons:

  • Systems need sensitivity to feelings when reporting delays and anomalies
  • Systems can seem unsentimental compared to, e.g. photographs in scrapbooks, baby books.


  • Digital repository with milestone tracking & reminders
  • Smart baby monitor with selective archiving and sensor-enabled toys

Discussion items:

  • Kids grew up fine without all this for 100,000 years, do we really need ubicomp here?
  • Is it more about the parents or about the child?

Pervasive Computing and Autism: Assisting Caregivers of Children with Special Needs: Julie A. Kientz, Gillian R. Hayes, Tracy L. Westeyn, Thad Starner, Gregory D. Abowd

  • Abaris: Computerized Discrete Trial Training data collection
  • CareLog: Recording of behaviours, antecedent and consequence for Functional Behaviour Assessment. Understanding the causes of bad behaviour.
  • Sensors to detect stimming

In designing solutions:

  • Need for domain knowledge
  • Ease-of-use
  • Customizability

Playful Tray: Adopting Ubicomp and Persuasive Computing into Play-Based Occupational Therapy for Reducing Poor Eating Behaviour in Young Children: Jin-Ling Lo, Tung-yun Lin, Hao-hua Chu, Hsi-Chin Chou, Jen-hao Chen, Jane Yung-jen Hsu, Polly Huang

Persuasive Computing is technology designed to change human behaviour. Playful Tray helps kids eat faster.

An eating game should:

  • Not interfere with eating
  • Grab attention
  • Be fun & intrinsically motivated

Coloring Game Tray: Eating foods colours parts of a cartoon character. Doesn’t work.
Racing Game Tray: Eating food moves a step in a race. Works.


Using Multiple Sensors for Mobile Sign Language Recognition: Helene Breashear, Thad Starner, Paul Lukowicz, Holger Junker

To help deaf people communicate with non-signers, a portable, wearable system to allows them to transcribe signing into text or speech for the non-signer. Adding accelerometers to gesture data is a complement to the existing computer vision approach.

Scribe4Me: Evaluating a Mobile Sound Transcription Tool for the Deaf: Tara Matthews, Scott Carter, Carol Pai, Janette Fong, Jennifer Mankoff

Service to record 30 seconds of audio. A button sends to a transcriber which responds with a text message with what was said, what ambient noise was present, what emotions were heard.

Well-liked and useful to deaf users.

Where’s My Stuff? Design and Evaluation of a Mobile System for Locating Lost Items for the Visually Impaired: Julie A. Kientz, Shwetak N. Patel, Arwa Z. Tyebkhan, Brian Gane, Jennifer Wiley, Gregory D. Abowd

Visually impaired people organize their key possessions, such as wallets and medication, carefully. Mundane objects like mugs, staplers, and cleaning supplies are difficult to organize in this manner. Attach bluetooth key fobs with a speaker to each of these items. A browser on a phone or laptop allows triggering of the beeps.

This should be an open standard…

Surprise utility as a memory aid instead of just visual aid.

%d bloggers like this: