ASSISTIVE technology may sound dull but it’s the stuff that’s transforming people’s lives – think the late Professor Stephen Hawking and his computer voice - and Bournemouth University’s work and research is growing in this area.

Now the University is gearing up for symposium on subjects including Human Computer Interaction, Cyber-Physical Systems, Robotics, Accessibility, Digital Health and Inclusion.

One of the lead speakers at the May 21 event will be Dr Paul Whittington, Postdoctoral Researcher in Assistive Technologies of the Faculty of Science and Technology and a powered wheelchair user himself.

“I have cerebral palsy and completed my undergraduate degree in Computing and subsequently my doctorate at the University,” he said. “I know technology has enabled me to get where I am, now I use it in my work and in education.”

He said the university had conducted research to discover what tasks people found difficult in everyday life. “I have my own experience but for other people it's different, even something like opening a window,” he said.

A range of companies and organisations have already expressed interest in Bournemouth’s research, including special educational needs schools, residential homes and assistive technology charities and manufacturers.

“We anticipate our research will benefit both the local and international community of people with disabilities, through the exploitation of the SmartAbility Framework,” he said.

An example of the research currently being performed is the development of a smartphone application for the framework, which will utilise the built-in sensor technologies to automatically detect the abilities of the users, he said. This would then be used to provide technology recommendations.

“Bournemouth has done a lot of research in this area because there is a lot of interest in this now,” he said. “A lot more people are interested because it has the power to improve people’s quality of life.”