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PhD Students Win 2017 RERC on AAC Research Award

September 6, 2017

Two Northeastern PhD students won a 2017 Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (RERC on AAC) Award. Fernando Quivira and Matt Higger’s Shuffle Speller project won the 2017 RERC on AAC Student Research and Design Competition. The competition is designed to advance understanding and enhance augmentative and alternative communication technologies to improve outcomes for individuals with complex communication needs; the 2017 competition was focused on stimulating research and development on the topic of AAC use in hospital settings. 

The Shuffle Speller project is an assistive tool that enables patients with speech or physical impairments to communicate using eye tracking technology. Quivira and Higger’s goal was adaptability, “As much as possible we strive to build a system which learns the user so that the user isn’t burdened with learning the system.”  This project is unique in its ability to learn with the user and improve the probability of accuracy. By having access to this technology, patients will no longer be limited by their impairments and can take a more direct role in making health-care related decisions. 

Shuffle Speller is the result of work by Quivira, Higger, their advising faculty member, Professor Deniz Erdogmus, and Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken and Betts Peters of Oregon Health and Science University. Shuffle Speller takes a new approach at developing a method of computer interface for persons with severe speech and physical impairments. This project is funded by HHS, NIH, and NSF.