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Oct 28

HealthEng partners simulate sensory impairments at Bloomsbury Festival 2016

On Saturday 22 October, a team of Institute of Healthcare Engineering partners joined the UCL Hub as part of this year’s Bloomsbury Festival, using interactive technology to demonstrate the effects of sensory conditions affecting communication.

  • Disrupted vision

  • Researchers and doctoral students from the UCL Centre for Doctoral Training in Medical Imaging collaborated with accessibility tech pioneers GiveVision to show the most common conditions affecting sight using specially designed augmented reality simulations alongside 360 virtual reality experiences developed by PhD student Mirek Janatka. Festival visitors wore headsets to experience their surroundings with bespoke filters recreating the visual distortions caused by visual impairments. Participants completed a series of tasks including tracing paper mazes and following the steps to make a cup of tea, highlighting how much we rely on our sight and the challenges of adapting to impaired vision. GiveVision also demonstrated their ground-breaking app SightPlus, which enhances remaining sight for people living with low vision.

    Find out more about vision conditions and current research:
    Fight for Sight
    Macular Society
    Give Vision
    UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
    Moorfields Eye Hospital
    NIHR Moorfields Hospital Biomedical Research Centre

  • Understanding hearing

  • The UCL Ear Institute showed their interdisciplinary research into restoring lost hearing through games, a live spectrogram and interactive recording software. Visitors heard recordings of their own voices played back as we believe they would be heard by a cochlear implant user, and saw how hearing deteriorates over time with age-related hearing loss. Ear Institute researchers showed how hearing aid and implant technology has developed and improved, and demonstrated how cochlear implants send electrical sound signals to the brain.

    Learn more about different causes of hearing loss and the Ear Institute’s research:
    Action on Hearing Loss
    UCL Ear Institute
    The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital

  • Lost for words

  • Progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA) is a rare type of dementia affecting spoken and written language. People with PNFA may seem to stutter and have trouble pronouncing words. By using a computer simulation to apply a delay to visitors’ speech while listening to themselves reading aloud through headphones, PhD students Bex Bond and Chris Hardy from the UCL Dementia Research Centre demonstrated how delayed auditory feedback causes loss of fluency and difficulty speaking, primary symptoms of PNFA.

    More information on different types of dementia and support services:
    UCL Dementia Research Centre
    Join Dementia Research
    Rare Dementia Support
    FTD Talk

    With almost two thousand visitors attending the festival over the course of the day, the HealthEng team raised awareness of a range of conditions and discussed our research with visitors of all ages and backgrounds, enabling the public to experience the world through the eyes and ears of people living with impairments.