Assistive Technology Rapid Integration and Construction Set - Open Source release ready for free download

For more than 2 years Assistive Technology (AT) experts from 7 EU countries have been working on the EU-funded project AsTeRICS. In February 2012 the first publicly available Open Source version has been placed for free download on the AsTeRICS website (www.asterics.eu). Although AsTeRICS can be used with a specially developed embedded platform, it can also be used on any WinXP, Vista or Win7 system and therefore can now be used by both scientists and end users all over the world. Comprehensive user and developer manuals can also be downloaded and enable anyone with basic technical skills to set up AsTeRICS for use by disabled persons.

The open source licensing of AsTeRICS makes it possible for users to acquire it free of charge and for software developers interested in Assistive Technology to use and further develop the system. This will bring benefits to an even larger number of disabled persons by bringing them to the independent living.

For the user’s convenience all developed hardware modules described in the specification and manuals will be available by the end of 2012.

What is AsTeRICS?

More than 2,6 million people in Europe have problems with their upper limbs and therefore many of them depend on Assistive Technologies. As the potential of the individual user is very specific and can either evolve or decline in time, adaptive ICT-based solutions are needed to let this population group participate in modern society. Such solutions are rarely available on today's market.

AsTeRICS provides a flexible and affordable construction set for realising user driven Assistive Technologies by combining emerging sensor techniques like Brain-Computer Interfaces and computer vision with basic actuators. People with reduced motor capabilities now have a flexible and adaptable technology at hand which enables them to access the Human-Machine-Interfaces (HMI) of the standard desktop but in particular also of embedded systems like mobile phones or smart home devices.

AsTeRICS implements a set of building blocks for the realisation of Assistive Technologies:

  • Sensors which allow the individual to exploit any controllable body or mind activity for interacting with human machine interfaces (HMI).
  • Actuators for interfacing to standard IT, to embedded systems and to interact with the environment
  • An Embedded Computing Platform that can be configured to combine sensors and actuators to tailored Assistive Technology solutions which support the full potential of an individual user.

Examples for the usage of AsTeRICS

Among others, some of the most interesting features of AsTeRICS are:

  • Use your webcam to control the mouse through head-movements,
  • Use any available sensor (button, strain gauge, sip-puff-switch, accelerometer, EOG, etc.) to simulate a mouse-click,
  • Control your home environment via AsTeRICS using infrared control or via accessing your Konnex environment,
  • Use alternative sensors to make your Playstation accessible,
  • Use the AsTeRICS Smart Vision Module to control a computer by using your eyes,
  • etc.

AsTeRICS revolutionises the concept of Assistive Technology: Assistive Technology today mostly focuses on a certain task or situation. Due to the growing importance of the PC, Assistive Technology has been oriented towards standard Human-Computer (HCI) or desktop interfaces. AsTeRICS respects the strong need for flexible, adaptable assistive functionalities accompanying people with disabilities away from the desktop, enabling them to interact with a diverse and fast changing set of deeply embedded devices in our modern environment.

Further updates of AsTeRICS Open Source will be available for download from the website in the near future. Also there is a forum available for feedback, questions to the developers and open discussions. For the forum, downloads and more information please refer to  www.asterics.eu.

Project Profile

Project acronym: AsTeRICS

Project full title: Assistive Technology Rapid Integration & Construction Set

Programme: 7th Framework Programme of the EU

Grant Agreement No.: 247730

Starting Date: 1 January 2010

Duration: 36 Month

Effort: 423.25 Person Month

Budget: 3 383 468 Euro

Funding: 2 649 674 Euro