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David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

A Community of Support through the ‘Click’ of a Nose

Starting in 2012, curatorial staff at CSTMC began a five year project of collecting ‘new technologies’. We assigned a different theme to each of the five years with the underlying goal of reflecting 21st century Canadian life. For 2014, my colleagues and I set about collecting technologies that related to building families and creating communities. Given the scope of the histories we collect, ‘community’ can be defined quite broadly and in a myriad of ways. For me, however, this idea of community as a support group is best represented in a current collecting opportunity, a 2012 laptop, camera and software program called Nouse. Anita Scott-Harrison, a patient at the Bruyère Continuing Care facility here in Ottawa, had been the first person to test this system:

“When I became paralyzed two years ago, people found it hard to come and visit. (…) I missed speaking with my family and friends. (…) Two persons, a laptop, and new software called Nouse helped turn things around for me. Hillary, my occupational therapist, who thankfully noticed that I was regaining a little bit of head movement, enough to use Nouse. Bill, my volunteer here at Saint Vincent’s, ever so kind and considerate. Bill was in my room one day, listening as Hillary described what would be required. I would need a laptop, the Nouse software, a Wifi account, and email account pre-initialized with my contacts. We would also need to know how to position the laptop when I wanted to use it. Clearly, Hillary would have her work cut out for her! With no hesitation at all, Bill volunteered to add another day to his visits, provided me with a laptop and Nouse, which he installed (and customized) for me.” [1]

 

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

This quote was taken from a testimonial that Anita wrote about her use and experience with the perceptual vision technology called Nouse, or Nose as Mouse, that enables vision-based, hands-free interaction with a computer. The system takes a video sequence as an input, and splits it into the channels corresponding to the motion, colour and intensity components of video. The system begins by performing face segmentation and detection tasks which enables the software to estimate where the face is in the video. Once a face has been detected, the user is required to manually choose the features that he/she wants to be tracked. This is called ‘stereo-tracking’ and the software makes use of the convex-shape of the nose in order to allow 3D face-tracking with the aid of an ordinary web-camera.

The Nouse Cursor is similar to the standard mouse arrow.

The Nouse Cursor is similar to the standard mouse arrow.

Dr. Dmitry Gorodnichy developed the Nouse technology at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). In 2007 Dr. Gorodnichy founded a company called IVIM Inc. and licensed the Nouse technology from NRC, with the intension to further develop Nouse. This technology has also been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Care Assistive Devices Program. The research and innovation inherent in the development of Nouse, as well as its applications and intended audience, makes this piece a welcome addition to the existing collection of assistive technologies at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Clicking with the Nouse software is performed with the assistance of a timer.

Clicking with the Nouse software is performed with the assistance of a timer.

What excites me most about this acquisition, however, is that its history of use and adaptation represents a unique community of care and support. Anita, the donor, became paralyzed in 2012 and moved to Bruyère Continuing Care in Ottawa, Ontario. The Bruyère Research Institute, a partnership of Bruyère Continuing Care and the University of Ottawa, has been a key partner in assisting with the development of Nouse. Anita started using Nouse in 2014 with the support of her occupational therapist, hospital volunteer, family members, and staff from IVIM Inc. These varying expertise and types of knowledge were collectively necessary in making Anita’s use of this software a success. Without each member of this community of support, different elements of her adoption of Nouse would not have been possible.

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to Anita for having shared her story. Through it we recognize and admire her strength and determination. I would also like to thank David Bissessar for his efforts and dedication to Nouse and for his invaluable support during the Museum’s acquisition process.

Sources:

Anita Scott-Harrison’s Testimonial, http://www.nouse.ca/en/testimonial.php

Nose as Mouse: Assistive Technology, http://www.nouse.ca/

[1] Anita Scott-Harrison’s Testimonial, http://www.nouse.ca/en/testimonial.php (accessed 23/09/2014). This testimonial was written with Nouse.