School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Research

Breathing Airflow Sensing for Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Breathing Airflow Sensing for Augmentative and Alternative Communication

There is an increasing need for versatile augmentative and alternative communication systems to significantly aid the communication of individuals with a speech disability.

Our Aim

An augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system is currently being researched by the Photonics Engineering and Health Technology Research Group to create a novel technology that will help individuals who have lost their voices and/or those with a speech disability to communicate. The project builds on the strengths and experience of the Photonics Engineering and Health Technology Research Group in the areas of health monitoring and assessment and biomedical engineering systems development.

AAC systems generally require significant efforts from users in terms of gestures acquisition and practice. To address this shortfall, this project explores an alternative AAC solution based on encoded modulated breathing to turn breath into words. The study investigates breathing signals recording, recognition and translation into meaningful words/phrases for the purpose of communication. The method is unbound to gestural movements that may be cumbersome to learn or difficult to generate.

The project aims to aid the communication of a wide range of speech-impaired individuals, including those with limited motor movements and patients in locked-in syndrome. The project targets the delivery of an AAC breath activated system with significant outcomes relevant to alternative communications and health sectors.

Our Research

The communication by breathing AAC project makes use of a number of facilities provided by the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, including the electronics laboratory, the hardware laboratory and specialised software packages to develop a novel technology for the translation of breathing patterns into words.

Our Outcomes

A hardware prototype and associated processing algorithms have been developed and trialled, and the system is currently being further developed to increase its functionality and robustness.

Dr Sijung Hu - Reader in Biomedical Engineering

“We have developed a user-friendly and affordable technology that can help individuals with severe speaking disabilities communicate with others. It is an exciting technology with potential to improve the quality of life of these individuals.” 

Dr Sijung Hu - Reader in Biomedical Engineering

Athena Swan Bronze award

Contact us

The Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering
Loughborough University
Loughborough
Leicestershire
LE11 3TU