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In 1991 Mark Weiser presented his vision of the next generation of computing where “… [technologies] weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (Weiser

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In 1991 Mark Weiser presented his vision of the next generation of computing where “… [technologies] weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (Weiser, 1991). More than 20 years after the introduction of this new computing paradigm[1] pervasive computing is virtually omnipresent with the wide availability of miniaturized sensing technology combined with compact and powerful computing platforms and ubiquitous availability of broadband network connections.

Probably the most p...

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In 1991 Mark Weiser presented his vision of the next generation of computing where “… [technologies] weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (Weiser, 1991). More than 20 years after the introduction of this new computing paradigm[1] pervasive computing is virtually omnipresent with the wide availability of miniaturized sensing technology combined with compact and powerful computing platforms and ubiquitous availability of broadband network connections.

Probably the most prominent “success story” of ubiquitous computing technology is the stellar rise and public uptake of smartphone platforms such as Apple’s iOS devices or those based on Google’s Android operating system. Additionally, smart environments that integrate a multitude of sensors and actuators in private homes have been subject to both research and commercial development with the goal of providing novel, situated services that support inhabitants of smart environments with context-related and adaptive information.

After more than 20 years of ubiquitous computing research many aspects of Weiser’s vision have become reality (Abowd, 2012). After developing core technologies and pioneering explorations, the research community from both academia and industry has now moved on, aiming for exploiting the new techniques in domains that have the potential for substantial impact both economically and societally. A prominent and very important example is healthcare using pervasive computing technology.

3. Pervasive Computing for Assisting Individuals with Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) corresponds to a complex medical condition that have severe impact on both the individuals affected and on those in their social surroundings. Autism is typically diagnosed through behavioural analysis where trained psychologists observe particular individuals and analyse their social behaviour according to well-defined criteria (cf., e.g., the Autism diagnostic observations schedule – ADOS (Lord et al., 1989)). Based on such behavioural assessments caregivers such as psychologists and occupational therapists adapt their treatment programs and support towards the individual needs. First approaches towards automating these assessments have recently been described in the literature (Goodwin et al., 2010; Ploetz et al., 2012).

Beyond Autism diagnosis and assessments in clinical environments, pervasive computing technologies have been developed with a view on supporting caregivers of largely younger children with special needs thereby focusing on everyday life situations (Kientz et al., 2007).

4. Decision Support System for Individuals with ASD

In this assignment we want to focus on pervasive computing technology for supporting older individuals with Autism in their everyday life activities. We will target our developments to a cohort of clients that have an age range of young adults (20+ years old) to retirement age (65 years). These individuals live either in their own homes or in an assisted living facility. Common to all is that they are not able to live independently, i.e., they require care and supervision from either their parents or from professional caregivers (such as occupational therapists or nurses).

Since Autism is a spectrum disorder the challenges these individuals face in their everyday life are very diverse. However, common to most individuals on the Autism spectrum are difficulties in social interactions and coping with “unusual” events. For example, it could be stressful for autistic individuals to deal with shopping situations where particular products are out of stock and alternative decisions have to be made.

Scenario

You work as a system developer who is going to build a system that provides situated support for the aforementioned target group of individuals on the Autism spectrum. Such a system must provide decision support whenever the user (individual with Autism) needs it. In its final version the system will automatically detect whether the user needs support and react accordingly. For doing so the system shall employ non-obtrusive sensing technology, sophisticated data analysis techniques, and intuitive means of interaction.

Task

Describe the process of system development where you focus on

1.     Background check and Requirement Analysis
Given the enormous range of behavioural phenotypes in Autism you need to analyse to what extent a somewhat standardized product can actually be used for a rather heterogeneous cohort of users. Identify one particular aspect you want to focus your support on (e.g., decision support for leisure activities where your system would give suggestions on how to proceed during grocery shopping if a particular item is out of stock). Provide a brief overview of existing pervasive computing system that focus on support for individuals with Autism.

a.    Describe the process of knowledge gathering, i.e., how you obtain information about your target group and their requirements.

b.    Focus on the ethical implications of this requirement analysis especially in the light of the target user group. Which roles do the caregivers of your users play?
 

2.    Problem Specification
After the requirement analysis you need to define the problem you are working on as specifically as possible.
Note that you should focus on one problem. The references provided (and your own literature research) will help you finding a specific problem you want to address.
 

 

3.    Sensing Solution
Briefly (!) describe what you would need to take into consideration if you were to implement your sensing system in order to detect if and when support is needed. There are a number of options for doing so including interactive and automatic systems.
You don’t have to actually implement the solution you describe. Thus, the focus is not on an exact description of all technical details (although the described solution should be realistic). You should focus on how a particular sensing solution would meet the constraints and requirements of the target users. For example, you could ask yourselves whether camera-based solutions would be appropriate for everyday life (and potentially public) situations.

 

4.    Project Planning
Describe how you would implement the system you envision. Be realistic (you are working alone!) in terms of schedules and milestones.

a.     Which project management approach did you chose? Why?

b.    How will you keep track of your progress?

c.     What is your strategy for dealing with unexpected difficulties?

Remember the special circumstances and the challenges you will have to expect when working with / for a population with special needs.

5.     Evaluation
Describe how you would evaluate the effectiveness of your developed solution:

a.    How can you measure the success of your endeavour?

b.    Which role do the users play in this evaluation?

c.     Which approach would be best for such an evaluation (to provide actual evidence for the effectiveness)?

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Solution preview

A Decision Support System for Individuals with ASD 

Abstract

An individual with Autism syndrome may have different motor disorders like visual, auditory, olfactory, taste and multisensory. Different computer technology has developed for assisting the caregivers for health and educational needs of individuals with autism. The different problematic situations arise in case of

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