Uni project shows phone apps are far from frippery

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Communication is something so many of us take for granted. But for 70 per cent of the 120,000 people with Parkinson’s in the UK, difficulties making themselves understood via speech can have a profound impact on their quality of life.

So it’s encouraging to report that a year-long research project at the University of Portsmouth could harness technology to help them.

A team in the Department of Creative Technologies, led by Dr Roger Eglin, aims to develop two mobile phone apps that will allow sufferers to be better understood by their family, friends and healthcare workers.

One app will let people know how loud their voice is compared to background noise and indicate what adjustment is required to be heard properly. Another will encourage people to speak more loudly, making them easier to understand.

Health professionals could then monitor people’s progress remotely.

It’s certainly testament to the university’s reputation and expertise that the charity Parkinson’s UK is so confident it’s prepared to foot the £35,000 bill for the project.

We think that those who have donated money to Parkinson’s UK will be pleased to know it’s going to help sufferers in such an innovative way.

We’re proud that our city’s university has such a good name and attracts the best people doing extremely valuable research, the benefits of which will be felt beyond the walls of academia in the real world.

For those with Parkinson’s, the apps have an exciting potential to improve communication and make them feel more confident in social situations.

We also think this story will cause those who are dismissive of technology such as phone apps to think again. They are often regarded merely as gadgets, games and electronic frippery. But in this case, such technology can help people with Parkinson’s to feel part of the world around them again.

We look forward to the apps being developed and widely used to transform lives.

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