Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presence (WERC)
From The Collaboratory
Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presence (WERCware) for the cognitively & behaviorally challenged: Students are developing and testing the prototype developed from previous research, conducted in collaboration with SymBionyx, a local Foundation that intends to market WERCware. See below for details about SymBionyx, and the current vision for WERCware.
Current 2011-2012 project-year objectives
With enough student participation the main thrust of the 2011-2012 WERCware project will be to develop by the end of the academic year--and if possible to begin implementing, a proof-of-concept deployment with a large regional non-profit provider of disability services with the minimum feature and function set common to two application contexts; remotely provided in-home attendant and job coaching for people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The proof-of-concept system is to be designed in close consultation with the first WERCware "customer" a major non-profit provider of disabilities operating in 16 PA counties.
The primary development objective of the proof-of-concept level WERCware system is 1) to minimally replicate in remote delivery the same services currently offered by physical presence providers at current quality-of-service standards, and 2) ideally to deliver one significant enhancement of current services that demonstrates the power of WERCware to enable new modes or levels of services that demonstrable improvements on the services currently only deliverable by the physical presence of the provider.
The proof-of-concept level system is anticipated to be delivered using, on the end user side; a) an Android smart-phone with several custom apps, b) one or more stationary web-cams and, c) we believe, a just released Looxcie LX2 Wearable Video Cam Bluetooth Headset--pending successful testing of the unit recently purchased, and on the remote provider side an appropriately configured PC with a broadband connection.
Current project planning and definition, while still in process, projects for the service enhancement demonstration to deliver a close facsimile of full-function WERCware-enabled delivery of in-home life skills or job site equipment operation or procedures training. This is anticipated to consist of semi-automatable user-controlled-pacing see-and-copy video demonstration of each step in a needs-to-be-acquired life skill for in-home attendant care, or a job-site equipment operation or procedure in a job coaching context. Of course notwithstanding, "semi-automated" and "user-controlled pacing" the attendant care client or job-coachee will always remotely monitored by a provider who can intervene with advice or support at any time.
We anticipate the most significant technical challenges to delivering on the proof-of-concept level device/system to be: 1) mastery of the Android OS and Android apps development process adequate to enable the customization of the proof-of-concept level WERCware smartphone, 2) enabling a PC-to monitor, interact with and control smartphone apps-enabled functioning, 3) assessing the applicability and adequacy of the Looxcie LX2 wearable Bluetooth video camera's standard low res, low frames-per-second streaming "viewfinder" mode for the purpose of a remote provider's sharing a service consumer's visual field of view and if not, assessing its capacity for adaptation to become so and 3) enabling simultaneous viewing of common documents, video and other media on, respectively a smartphone display screen and a PC monitor.
Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presence (WERC) is an assistive technology system for socially and/or cognitively challenged individuals. WERCware permits a remote coach, trainer or attendant care provider to see and hear what the client sees and hears, in real time.
With enough student participation, the main thrust of the 2011-2012 WERCware project will be to develop by the end of the academic year--and if possible to begin implementing, a proof-of-concept deployment with a large regional non-profit provider of disability services, with the minimum feature and function set common to two application contexts: remotely provided in-home attendant and job coaching for people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The proof-of-concept system is to be designed in close consultation with the first WERCware "customer" a major non-profit provider of disabilities operating in 16 PA counties.
Design and develop a prototype of a working mobile audio-video solution which has the following specifications:
- Wifi networking capability using 802.11b,g or n
- The ability to seamlessly transfer between wireless access point
- A delay of less than 1 second between real time and what the coach observes.
- A microphone audio range of 2-3ft
- A visual range of 120 degrees
- Video quality of 1.3 megapixel with frame rate of 25fps
Our hope is to achieve this by the end of 2009/2010 school year
- Obtain necessary processor, wireless adapter, and other paraphernalia – December 2009
- Successful video transmission – February 2010
- Develop appropriate microphone, headset and camera apparatus – April 2010
SymBionyx develops innovative solutions to assist late adolescents and young adults who have high functioning Autism or Asperger’s Disorder. SymBionyx employs coaching services, for diagnostic, job and life skills, together with tools of communication technology designed to unlock the potential of its clients as they transition into the workforce and pursue independent living. Currently, as many as 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with some form of autism, with degrees of impairment ranging across the Autism Spectrum. Although autistic individuals at the lower functioning end of the spectrum may never become capable of competitive employment or fully independent living, those diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder or Asperger’s Disorder have a higher functioning form of autism that may benefit from WERCware. Those with Asperger’s Disorder experiencing deficits in social functioning need not let that limit their employability or independent living potential. SymBionyx offers them the remedial training and life skills coaching oriented to Asperger’s-specific deficits that can enhance potential employability and full capacities for independent living. SymBionyx exists to uniquely serve this employable-but-for-remediation subset of the Autism Spectrum population. SymBionyx addresses this gap in service capacity by developing a comprehensive solution known as SocialWERC. SocialWERC combines one-on-one job coaching with a skills training process supported by proprietary wireless communications technology.
The technology aspect of the SymBionyx’s SocialWERC solution relies on a proprietary concept called Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presence (WERC). WERC reconfigures existing wireless communications hardware into a multi-component device involving associated technologies and services (hereafter referred to as WERCware). WERCware enables new forms of training and support for behaviorally, socially and/or cognitively challenged children and adults. With one important qualification, the multi-component WERCware device acts as a training-specific adaptation of current generation multifunction cell phones including separate wireless Bluetooth™ headsets, and several additional discrete wirelessly-connected components. These additional components include a voice headset and a cell phone-type micro-video camera that can be unobtrusively attached to or within a trainee’s eyeglasses, nametag, or placed almost anywhere else. Most significantly, WERCware permits a remote coach or trainer, located virtually anywhere else, to share his/her trainees’ point of view—that is, to see and hear exactly what they are seeing and hearing, in real time or, retroactively by “instant replay.”
The coach can then discuss and advise them about what is happening, without the context-distorting effects of being physically present in their situation, the only way in-situ training can currently be done. Other WERCware features permit further significant enhancements over existing on-site job-training capabilities. To cite only one: Long after formal job coaching is completed, clients or their employers may elect to continue subscribing to a WERCware-based support service—-as a sort of job crisis Onstar™ for Asperger’s Disorder or Anger Management—-where a WERCware client who senses an impending crisis, can request active monitoring, and get counsel from a remote coach, to avert a crisis. Or, if a situation developed too quickly to actually avert the crisis, a WERCware remote coach could at least support a client soon enough after a crisis to permit damage control, and possibly facilitate recovery, after reviewing “instant replay” audio and video of the event, from the client’s point of view. SymBionyx is currently developing a pilot program to provide job coaching and training services, along with a device prototype. A team of Messiah College students supervised by faculty and SymBionyx staff will design, develop and test the prototype.
Student Engineering Team