PLEASE NOTICE that - unless you are yourself a relic of times gone by - this page is a FOSSIL. I do not intend to take on any more research students, but I preserve the page and its descendants because others have found the material useful. I've left the text unchanged, because it's easy, but some of its implications are no longer significant

This page is now, and will probably always be, unfinished. Please ask me if you want any more information.

Go to me ( Alan Creak, in case you've forgotten );
Go to Computer Science.

The topics listed here identify fields of work rather than courses of study planned in detail. That's in the interests of efficiency; it takes a little time to produce a plan, and if no one is ever interested the time is wasted. Generally speaking, unless I've labelled the topics otherwise I can find projects, M.Sc. theses, and Ph.D. theses in all these areas - ask if you're interested, and we can work out a plan to our mutual satisafaction.

Before committing yourself to anything, you might like to look at my policy for research students.

Prospective PhD students from elsewhere might also like to check our department's information sheet, which might answer some questions about procedures and finance.


Multiple communication channels.

Many people with severe physical disabilities use communication aids which are operated using a single on-off switch. The switch is used to produce coded signals, which are then converted into conventional character codes. In this group of topics, the aim is to investigate the possibility of combining several channels of different abilities. Some topics address that question more or less directly, while others are concerned with more basic issues which must be resolved on the way to improved systems.

More details ?


Robot vision.

Many people with disabilities use robots for domestic or work-related tasks, but the scope of these robots is limited by the possible danger which they pose to the people they serve. For this reason, robot feeding machines can pick up food from a plate, but stop with the food presented well in front of the person who wishes to eat it. The person must then lean forwards and take the food from the implement used.

Some people cannot manage this. For example, it might be neccessary for food to be placed at a specific position within someone's mouth before it can be consumed. Robots are at present not sufficiently safe to be used in such a sensitive area.

To improve the robots' performance, they must have much better visual abilities, with which they can "see" the person's face in sufficient detail to identify the mouth, and to guide the implement within. ( It is obviously also necessary to have other sensing devices, but the focus of this work is the vision system. )

More details ?


Design and evaluation of rehabilitation communications systems.

A technique called Vocabulary Translation Analysis can be used in the description and design of communications systems such as those used for rehabilitation purposes. It is based on the principle that in order to transmit a signal reliably through a sequence of processing stages, it is necessary that each stage should have some vocabulary in which all components of the signal can be satisfactorily encoded.

By applying this principle systematically to the interfaces between modules in a system, a check on the feasibility of the transmission can be carried out; in addition, by defining the vocabularies at the input and output of a module, a specification for the performance of the module is obtained.

More details ?


Selection interfaces.

Most computer interfaces used by people are selection interfaces, because we use the interface to select the task we wish to be done next. It's therefore very important for the smooth running of a system that the selection interface must run efficiently. In practice, most of them run not too badly - provided that you can use them.

Other things being equal ( which they never are, but let's pretend ), the interfaces are designed for people with reasonably dexterous hands and good eyesight. If you are not so equipped, which is the case for many people with various sorts of disability, the conventional interfaces can be very hard to use. Interface design is therefore a big issue in rehabilitation computing, and the topics in this group are concerned with various aspects of interfaces.

More details ?


Alan Creak,
2001, March.
( amended 2007, April. I wasn't going to, but there was a dreadful spelling mistake. )