I cannot even describe how I feel. Anticipation, excitement, joy... About a year of preparation and now the time has come: We have started!
I don’t even know where this journey will take us. But let’s take things from the start, because words are rushing out…
The first time I realized the need when I was in ELEPAP (Rehabilitation for The Disabled) to offer them the remote control that we developed for people with disabilities.
- “Hey guys, can you do something more?” Ria, ELEPAP ergotherapist, told me with agony. “...For our children, who cannot communicate”
- “Tell me…”
- “They cannot tell us what they want, how they feel: They have mobility problems, but more than often their speech isn’t clear as well, some of them cannot speak at all. Do something so that they can tell us what they need, such as a glass of water, something to eat or that they are cold…
- “Hold on Ria, how are they communicating now? There are some communication programs for PCs, aren’t there?”
- “Yes, but this kind of program is expensive. And if you count the cost of the equipment as well… Well, that’s a lot… How many of these parents have enough money in Greece to spare for such a need, in the middle of an economic crisis? Not even we, as ELEPAP, don’t have as much as we need. And this is not all!”
- “What else?”
- “Well, here we do ergotherapy with the children, a great job is being done, and the program you mentioned earlier is helping us a lot, but when they get back home... the work stops… The hours are not enough in their everyday routine, progress is very slow”
- “Wait a moment, what do you mean? When they are home, how do they communicate with their parents, how do they exercise?”
- “The situation is very difficult Vassilis…”
I left puzzled.
“Who has the money?” Thinking about the agony of the parents: they want their kids to be able to communicate, to exercise more in order to be more efficient, or even self sufficient, but…
Some time later, the same need was described to me by Dimitra, an ergotherapist at Evaggelismos Hospital. This time it did not regard children. She was talking with great concern about adults that are being treated at the Increased Care Unit (ICU).
"Many of those people can not move or speak. As long as they are in the ICU, I can understand what they want with the help of a program and a special button that they click in any way they can. But, when they leave, how will they be able to communicate with their families? How will they say "I have itchy feet" or "Rearrange my bedding"? These systems are expensive"
Again the same question: "Who has the money?"
The same issue came up also with Aristotle, a very active ergotherapist at KKPPA (Social Care Centre in Attica). We heard the same thing over and over again from all ergotherapists we spoke with…
The team immediately started working on it. We experimented for some time, we studied in detail what is already available, what we can do ... We even prepared pilot solutions...
So, when we submitted a funding proposal to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, our anxiety was greater than ever. The need is enormous, will the proposal be approved?
And it was approved. Approved! The people of the Foundation understood and shared our concerns. So here we are... we begin!
We are working intensively, we are already ahead of schedule: We are developing “Talk and Play”. A system that we will be concluding in autumn and will be offering for free to everyone. With this software program people with mobility limitations, or facing problems with speech, will be able to:
- Choose music or video on their PC
- Train and exercise for their rehabilitation under the instructions of their ergotherapist.
We will create and offer a ready-to-use solution (software program built in a PC and a special operating system) to our partners: ELEPAP (Rehabilitation for The Disabled), Recovery Laboratory of Athens Medical School (Evaggelismos Hospital), Social Care Centre of Attica, and to parents and their kids.
In order to have it at home, for their family.
Because, we don’t want “money” to be the problem anymore, at least in this case. We’ll do our best. And that’s a promise being kept.
The project is being developed by SciFY
with exclusive donation from Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
Patients and people with disabilities have to deal with a lot of difficulties in their everyday lives. Some of the most common problems are:
There are plenty of solutions in the field of Assistive Technologies to make their life better. However, they usually are too expensive, or so complicated, that they become inaccessible to patients and people with disabilities.
The result is that these people are isolated and aren’t properly or not at all rehabilitated, and this has physical and mental implications for them and their environment.
Talk and Play is a system that allows people with disabilities to:
This way, they are able to communicate, listen to music, watch movies and train for a quicker rehabilitation.
Our main goal was to drastically reduce the total cost of the solution. How we achieved this:
But we would like to have a significant impact. This is why:
Talk and Play is addressed to:
Apart from the groups - end users described above, Talk and Play benefits also:
In this effort we have valuable collaborators: the Recovery Laboratory of the Athens Medical School (Evaggelismos Hospital), ELEPAP, K.K.P.P.A. (Social Care Centre of Attica) ans the Foundation KASP-Hatzipaterio.
With years of experience and expertise in this field, they have a key role in:
For Windows here (in Greek):
For Linux here (in Greek):
|Installation instructions: here (in Greek)||Installation instructions: here (in Greek)|
|Use instructions: here (in Greek)||Use instructions: here (in Greek)|
In the following table is the development cost of the prototype solution: Talk and Play in Raspberry PI with wireless switch.
For every item and for every design of the 3D printing, the link leads to the supply source (open hardware).
|Raspberry Pi 3 Model B||41,70€|
|Polymer Lithium Ion Battery - 3.7v 550mAh||8,00€|
|SparkFun USB LiPoly Charger - Single Cell||17,50€|
|SANDISK SDSQUNC-016G-GN6IA ULTRA MICRO SDHC 16GB||8,90€|
|Raspberry Pi 3 case with VESA mounts **||2,00€|
|Power Supply 5V 2.5A||9,90€|
|Files stl for the 3D printing *||4,00€|
|Talk and Play Software||0,00€|
|Total cost||116,65 €|
* Cost of 3D printing in case that the user has 3D printer
** SciFY has designed a special 3D print file for Rpi 3 top case with the SciFY logo
Talk and Play has been completed successfully and the results surpassed our expectations.
The project was developed by SciFY with an exclusive donation from Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
On Wednesday the 13th of April, at 19:00, more than 120 people attended the 10th SciFY Academy which was organised by SciFY and the Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Technopolis City of Athens - Innovathens, on the topic of “Internet of Things - From an idea to an international market”. SciFY Academy is a free, series of presentations which aims to promote the free diffusion of knowledge, conducted by the Non Profit Organisation SciFY.
The event’s first speaker was Chrysostomos Bouras, member of the “TheThingsNetwork Athens” community. He presented his team’s (GRIot) effort in expanding a network of Internet of Things in Athens which will belong exclusively to citizens/volunteers.
Afterwards, Lefteris Papageorgiou, CEO of Entranet, with his vast experience in the area of new technologies introduced us to the world of Internet of Things (Iot) using the “house from the future” as an example.
An expected question is “what exactly does the house of the future have that makes it different than ordinary residences?” The answer is that you can have full control of the house through voice commands. Indicatively we will mention voice recognition: for example you will be able to speak to the elevator and tell it on which floor you wish to get off or just the profession of the person you wish to visit. Few of us know that the residents of a ‘smart” house will have access to services such as an electronic information bank which will be updated with biometric information, it will remind you of your medical needs and will offer you the possibility of immediate communication with medical centers.
Furthermore we were informed about the basic steps that must be done to promote an innovative business idea:
Step 1: Build your team
Step 2: Learn your market
Step 3: Calculate the time you will need to enter the market
Step 4: Calculate the cost
Step 5 : Conduct a Business Plan and stick to it
Step 6: Breakdown the Structure
Step 7 : Find the capital
Step 8 : Think of alternative funding sources
We would like to thank Lefteris Papageorgiou, Chrysostomos Bouras, INNOVATHENS and of course all our friends who attended the event making interesting comments and questions, contributing once more in realising our dream of free knowledge diffusion!
LEAP tournament games
Blind and sighted students play together!
The problem that we were presented with, was not what we expected. In the I.M Panagiotopoulos School in which we did the tournament game, between sighted children of the school and blind children of Kallithea Special Elementary School for the Blind, the children who wanted to play were so many, and time was limited, that we had to choose who would play, and who would not ... but let's start from the beginning:
Our aim was to talk to students aged 10-13 (5th and 6th grade students ofelementary school and 1st grade of High Scool), and make them understand that not all people start their life with the same skills and abilities but it does not matter, because in real life we help each other, regardless of our personal potential and abilites, and we need the skills of other people.
Moreover, our aim was to create partnerships between sighted and blind students because although the sighted students can see the computer screen and (obviously) "control" the game, the blind or visually impaired students have a (proven) better sense of hearing and space.
In other words, we all wanted to play and learn from it.
"But, Ms Elina, how could blind children play tennis if they do not see?", "And the arrows on the screen, how will they find them in order to play?".
These were some of the obvious questions that the students of I.M. Panagiotopoulos School had during the "preliminary" meeting, a few days before the tournament. That’s why the school teachers and our team needed to be well prepared. And that’s exactly what happened. The School Director and the teachers were perfectly prepared: They had accepted with enthusiasm our proposal, and the teachers had explained to the children what to do according to the plan, they had already run an internal tournament … Furthermore, in order to solve the problem of who would play, we decided to do a draw and have two sighted children for each blind student. This way we also had fewer disappointed children!
The day of the tournament
It’s Tuesday morning, 15 of March, and we are ready to visit the I.M. Panagiotopoulos School in Pallini in order to start the LEAP game tournament between blind and sighted students. We were a bit anxious. On everyone’s mind was the responsibility towards children and the details for conducting of the tournament.
At around 10:30 a.m. we were welcomed by the teachers outside the school. We entered the room where the blind children of Kalithea Disability School along with the group of children from the 5th and 6th grade of IM Panagiotopoulos Elementary School were waiting for us. We introduced ourselves to the children and we explained them the rules of the tournament. The rules were simple. Each student of Kalithea school would play three rounds. In each round he/she would be introduced to a new group of children of the other school. Each child could choose which game to play, tennis or tic tac toe.
Getting to know each other
The children were getting to know each other. They discussed about their classes, their daily routine, their favorite hobbies, their favorite food. It was great to see children with different experiences, so willing to get to know each other, not out of curiosity, but out of real interest.
"You do have English classes? and French? and also learn to play the piano? Uh ... and then when do you have time play?" All the above are just some of the questions that our friend S., student of Kallithea school, asked the students from IM Panagiotopoulos School.
"Seriously, do you write fairy tales? girls from IM Panagiotopoulos asked A. from School of Kallithea"
"What about you guys? You all like pasticcio? Nobody likes the spinach? or the okra?" Laughter and conspiratorial glances … Things are going great…
We started to play: we put the headphones on, turned the computer screen off and with only the help of the three-dimensional sound of LEAP game series, the teams were trying to collect the highest possible score. Truth is that the score itself didn’t really bother us. What mattered the most was the children to get to know each other and the experience of playing together.
After a few hours the tournament had cometoan end. There was no winner and no loser, what mattered was the involvement in the game and making some new friends. Having a good time, many smiles ... and some chocolates are enough to make a child happy. :-)
What did we gain?
With actions like this, we feel that we help so that children become familiar with the different disabilities that people may have, learn to respect their fellows and consider them equal to them, so that they adopt an attitude of respect towards people with disabilities.
After the end of the tournament, we had to leave the school. We were all feeling differently, we were feeling the joy of giving, and that the satisfaction that the games which we created, can really change the everyday life of our little friends with vision problems. We felt that we offered a unique experience and a life lesson to all, including us.
The children’s responses
After the tournament ,we spoke privately with each child group. They didn't know us well, but they responded honestly:
"I felt excitement and pleasure that I helped him even a little."
"I think my experience with blind children was perfect, A. played better than me "
"I felt joy and pleasure that worked and got to know these children."
"I was very happy with this experience and been given the opportunity to get to know these children."
"I certainly had fun and I made new friends."
"When I left I felt a bit sad, not because I had to go back to school but because I would miss the girl I played with."
We also asked the sighted children something more: Were you anxious before the meeting?
It came to our surprise that for many children, this was like pushing a button: it made them more relaxed and started talking about it. They understood that we did not expect "politically correct" answers, but honest ones. They felt relieved that they could speak freely:
- Yes! I was thinking how should I speak, what to do ...
- And now, after the games, what do you think? Did you actually have reasons to be concerned?
-(Laughs) Of course not! We are…. how can I say it ... It's just .... they are children, they are friends!
- Come on, I said, have a break!
I didn't want them to understand I was trying to hide a small tear....
Over 100 people watched Spiros Tzortzis, graduate of the Department of Organization and Business Administration of the Economic University of Athens and member of the Cooperate Digital Communication Sociality, introduce us to the world of Google Adwords.
In the beginning of the event the attendees watched 3 small videos about:
Continuing, Vassilis Salapatas took the floor and informed us about SciFY’s actions in the field of Organisational Intelligence. He described Newsum, an application which conducts sums of news from different sources and in many languages, he also referred to PServer, an application for automatic personalization services.
We were also informed about SciFY’s new projects which aim to contribute in the Digital Marketing of companies.
Later on, Mr Tzortzis made an introduction to Digital Marketing and described to us concepts like e-mail marketing, Social Media Marketing and Display Advertising.
He analysed what are Google AdWords as well as the terminology that is being used:
We were informed about how advertising takes place on the internet -Google Search Network and Google Display Network- and how Quality Score affects the results.
We would like to thank Spiros, INNOVATHENS and of course all our friends who attended the event making very interesting comments and questions and contributing once more in making our dream of free diffusion of knowledge come true.
Download the presentation here.
Τo be informed about SciFY’s next events you can register here.
“For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
Mary Pat Radabaugh, Director of IBM National Support Center for Persons with Disabilities
On Wednesday the 10th of February, the SciFY team, organised at INNOVATHENS Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Technopolis of the Municipality of Athens, a seminar dedicated to Assistive Technologies.
Over 50 people watched Mr. George Kouroupetroglou head of the Accessibility and Technology Voice Lab for student’s with disabilities of the University of Athens and Head of the department of Communication and Signal Processing of the IT Department, together with Mrs. Kalliopi Lappa, Occupational Therapist, Responsible of Assistive Technologies at the National Rehabilitation Center and Scientific Partner of the organisation and function of Assistive Technology spaces at the “Asklipio Voulas” General Hospital and at the Intesive Care Unit of “Evaggelismos” General Hospital, introduce us to assistive technologies.
|The event started Mr. Aristotle Panagopoulos, occupational therapist at the PIKPA Foundation, introducing the current situation in Greece regarding assistive technologies to the crowd.
Subsequently, Mr. George Kouroupetroglou took the floor, and among others he reffered to the Hardware and Software applications which can be used for:
Furthermore, there were references on the legislation and policies followed in a National and International level for people with disablities in matters of social intergration. Moreover, the attendants were informed about the existence of an open library with free assistive technology application software, the mAthena collection.
|In the second part of the seminar Mrs. Kalliopi Lappa described to us how important it is to offer as soon as possible assistive technologies to people who are in need of them. Furthermore, she talked about the lack of games for blind children and how important SciFY’s effort creating LEAP games is.
Concluding, there was a reference to the value of teamwork and cooperation between those whom it concerns, the members of the interdisciplinary team, the families and the carers. At the end of her speech, Mrs. Lappa refered to the FEIRd device, which was created by SciFY for people who face disabilities in their upper limbs. Last but not least, she described to us the change it brought to the everyday life of our friend, Alexander.
We warmly thank Sophia, Maria, Thanasis and Margarita, the intrepreters from the Polyhoros-Kivotos center (center for education in sign language), who voluntarily translated the speeches to sign language.
|The event was conducted with the scientific support of the Hellenic Association of Assistive Technologies.
To learn about following SciFY Academy events, you can subscribe here.
SciFY is a place of creation and innovation, a place with different perspective of the world. Just creating applications is not enough, we persue the creation of innovative solutions for people who are in need of them. This is why we decided to develop ICSee (I Can See) an application for people with visual impairments which incoporates all the necessary innovation needed for the people that will use it.
In this effort of ours we came in touch with specialists, organisations and associations of people who deal with visual impairments. We asked them what are their needs? What problems do they face with the already existent assistive technologies? What do they wish we could create for people with severe visual problems? We made them our partners in this effort because they know the problem better than anyone else.
ICSee helps people with visual impairments deal with everyday problems for example it helps them read a receipt or a name on a doorbell e.t.c. An application like ICSee can be a integral part of the everyday lives of people with visual disabilities. With ICSee everyone can see in their own special way:
-It helps with reading texts: it magnifies the text but also offers the possibilty to applying a series of special filters
-It doesn’t have a menu text or a written tutorial: We have made it’s usage as easy as possible aboloshing menus and utilizing the master senses of people with low vision, hearing and touching, creating acousting instructions and creating gestures which allow it’s easy usage.
In this manner everybody who has low vision has the opportunity to use ICSee without any help from his social enviroment making him feel more indipendent. Whereas, anyone can download the ICSee application completely free on his android smartphone or tablet from GooglePlay by clicking here.
We are particulary happy when prominent organisations support our effort, organisations like ENIL ( European Network on Indipendent Living ) which posted our application ICSee on its Social Media following it with great commentary. Also, we have had the support of many Greek media with various article being written about SciFY and ICSee for example on Huffington Post Greece , Proto Thema , Vima and many more.
To sum it up, we would also like to thank the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which thanks to it’s kind grant made it possible for us to create a better more improved version of the application ICSee.
On Wednesday 20th of January, SciFY’s team, organized in INNOVATHENS, Technopolis Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Municipality of Athens, a seminar, devoted to the synthesis and speech recognition technologies.
Almost 100 people, watched Aimilios Chalamandaris, co-founder and director of INNOETICS company, and Nasos Katsamanis, researcher of Athena RIC and co-founder of beenotes company, to analyze the text-to-speech and speech-to-text technologies.
The event was introduced by Mr Vassilis Salapatas, one of SciFy’s co-founders, presenting the new improved version of the innovative ICSee application, funded by the Latsis Foundation. He stated that: "Using ICSee (I Can See), people with low vision can read a short text such as the list of a restaurant or the price on a receipt, which would otherwise be very difficult or even impossible to do. So their everyday lives improve greatly."
We recommend to those who have android devices (smartphone or tablet), to download the application from google play for free
“Look, I can manage without a screen!”
Followingly, Aimilios Chalamandaris referred to the Immitation of speech production methods (parametric, voice immitation as signal and hybrid voice), including the systems using speech synthesis, such as Text normalization and Unit selection. Furthermore, he described to us in which areas of everyday life this technology applies. Examples include Education (audio books, talking dolls), GPS navigation, the public transport announcements, the human-machine interface, and the preservation of languages that tend to disappear!
Those of you who wish to see and practice one of INNOETICS applications, such as writting a text and listening your computer reading the message, press here.
“Look, I can manage without a keyboard!"
In the second part of the event, Nasos Katsamanis, analyzed the technology of speech recognition, converting the speech into text. Typical examples of the use of this technology, is the video subtitling in Youtube, Google voice input and telephone monitoring. Next he explained to us that for developing an application that uses speech recognition technology the following things are required: data, a list of voices, accoustic models and tools for speech recognition such as: KALDI & CMU Sphinx.
Furthermore we were informed that in some cases it is a good thing that even... “the walls have ears”. In particular there was a reference to how our fellow citizens with some form of disability can be able to use the electrical appliances in their house giving simple voice commands. The name of this project: DIRHA
Enjoy the relevant video: "My sweet home… listen!"
Finishing, for those wondering what relevance apiculture has with all the above, in SciFY Academy, we learned that the speech recognition technology is used by the beekeepers so that they can keep voice notes, due to they cannot keep written notes because of their clothing!
As a conclusion, we would like to thank the speech rapporteurs, Aimilios Chalamandaris and Nasos Katsamanis, Latsis Foundation for the sponsorship offered to us so that we can upgrade the ICSee application, and all of you that attended the event..
See you soon...
Download Mr Chalamandaris presentation here.
Download Mr Katsamanis presentation here.
Many actions have begun through an informal discussion among a group of friends ... but the truth is that the groups are making history with their ideas, which are simple yet prove so profound, make an affect on our daily lives. Moreover groups have visions and they are the incubator of countless actions ...And beyond friends, groups of citizens acting in the framework of the Civil Society. Civil society has grown into a force that changes the world. In SciFY we feel it is imperative to create an open source platform, which will operate as a network of interactive communication agencies and citizens groups. The active commons is an online platform that helps individuals to participate in groups to act for a common purpose. We support the creation of local action groups, interaction and exchange of knowledge through direct open information on issues related to a wide range of activities. An application was developed with the cooperation of non-profit organizations Culture Polis, Place Identity and Scify in the project Policy Innovation Platform and co-financing of the project "We are all citizens". ActiveCommons addresses to: Institutions of civil society that want to collaborate effectively online, communicate their actions and deliver results. Any group or citizen that wants to be informed about the actions of civil society. We get even more joy when our creations travel outside the Greek borders! The German Institute MitOst in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation used the platform as a way to support the Actors of Urban Change programme for a pilot period of almost 2 years. The Actors of Urban Change programme aims to develop cities through cultural activities. Teams from many countries participated in the platform (Italy, Spain, Serbia, Portugal and Russia and more). Based on the experience collected, we all advanced our expertise in supporting groups of citizens get into action.
Many actions have begun through an informal discussion among a group of friends ... but the truth is that the groups are making history with their ideas, which are simple yet prove so profound, make an affect on our daily lives. Moreover groups have visions and they are the incubator of countless actions ...And beyond friends, groups of citizens acting in the framework of the Civil Society.
Civil society has grown into a force that changes the world.
In SciFY we feel it is imperative to create an open source platform, which will operate as a network of interactive communication agencies and citizens groups.
The active commons is an online platform that helps individuals to participate in groups to act for a common purpose. We support the creation of local action groups, interaction and exchange of knowledge through direct open information on issues related to a wide range of activities.
An application was developed with the cooperation of non-profit organizations Culture Polis, Place Identity and Scify in the project Policy Innovation Platform and co-financing of the project "We are all citizens".
ActiveCommons addresses to:
Institutions of civil society that want to collaborate effectively online, communicate their actions and deliver results.
Any group or citizen that wants to be informed about the actions of civil society.
We get even more joy when our creations travel outside the Greek borders!
The German Institute MitOst in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation used the platform as a way to support the Actors of Urban Change programme for a pilot period of almost 2 years. The Actors of Urban Change programme aims to develop cities through cultural activities. Teams from many countries participated in the platform (Italy, Spain, Serbia, Portugal and Russia and more).
Based on the experience collected, we all advanced our expertise in supporting groups of citizens get into action.
4th SciFY Academy: Sharing #OpenKnowledge for Sentiment Analysis!
On Wednesday, at the 10th of June at INNOVATHENS in Technopolis, took place the 4rth #SciFΥacademy with the subject “Sentiment Analysis ...for the conscious ones” which was presented by Mr. Konstantinos Chandrinos and was organized by the Non for Profit computer science NGO SciFY.