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Return to Aphasia.

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Three years ago Jane had a stroke which made her unable to speak. Her intelligence is unaffected, but she cannot find the words.

How can she use an Openmoko mobile phone to communicate with her husband when the words are gone? When her husband is on the phone, asking - What are you doing? Do you want to have lunch with me?

To answer his first question about what she is doing, she’s using the Openmoko phone to send him a small picture, showing a cup of tea. And then, a second picture with a heart, and he answers he loves her too. Then he asks if they can meet, he want to have a cup of tea as well, and she answers by sending him her GPS location (the Openmoko phone is a GPS reciever) and he can hear the street address of the small restaurant where she is right now. If there was a phone that made all this possible, I bet she would want one. You've read a short story, capturing what this project is all about -- to build a very special mobile phone.


This page describes the concept of the Aphasia Openmoko. Why and how it started. How it can help. Doctor's comments. Ideas and general brainstorming. Feel free to add and change this page at will.

Innovation happens elsewhere

It all started in the 90's, a friend of mine asked if I could make a Windows-program that he could use to connect his home pc to his office pc so that he could communicate with his son, suffering from Downs syndrome and unable to use an ordinary phone. His son knew pictograms and could communicate by sending small pictures to his dad. I made a system which I also took to HI. They found it interesting, but not mobile enough (a PC was a heavy box at that time) and restrictive because you had to have 2 PC's with the same software installed on both. The idea though was brilliant, and here we go again, with a new incarnation.

Are you a Developer

Do you want to help create a unique phone? Start learning Erlang. The language is tailored to telecom applications by Ericsson. Erlang supports programming "soft" real-time systems, which require response times in the order of milliseconds. It has support for concurrency and 5 nines. When you have a basic understanding of Erlang, follow the Aphasia Development Tutorial to get acquainted with the overall architecture, and how to write a new service and add it to the Aphasia userland. Sign-up as a project member here.

Are you a User

You want to take a look at what the phone can do for you, besides the trivial picture_to_sound service, which - as I said - is an old idea in a new package.

On top of the four basic services; GSM, GPS, Sound and Haptic, there are already quite a few High Order Services and more to come. What is most important here is not if this or that service is implemented, but that your doctor can install and remove services on your phone without you even have to know about it. And you know what, he/she can do it over the network so you don't even have to plan a visit. Just pick up the phone and the new functions are there.

Nevertheless - This is what I got so far:

  • A Dialer
    • Clutter free and large enough to be finger-friendly.
  • An analogue clock
    • This is a must-have :) but also the only clock_in_a_mobile I can read without glasses. It's dependable as it synchronizes with the GPS satellite time signal.
  • Pictograms
    • Lots of small pictures that speaks when you touch them. You can hear, as well as the one you are talking to.
  • GPS Reticle
    • It's like a rifle reticle, but friendlier. With the dot in the center you are heading at your goal. Nice if you lost your way back to your hotel.
  • Mimic
    • Word/phrase practising. You listen to a word or phrase, mimic and listen to both versions for comparison. You can practice in public, people you meet thinks you are talking to someone in your phone :)

As you can see, lots of new services remains to invent/implement. If you are a programmer or want to learn, please read the developer section above and get going. People with Aphasia, and their relatives, are probably the most valuable resources we could get as developers, so please sign on.


You, who is reading this page, please write your question here and I'll try to give you an answer. Never mind if you don't manage formatting your question, I'll do that for you.

Q: How did Jane find a picture of a cup of tea so quickly?

From an almost unlimited amount of small pictures she could find the cup_of_tea picture in only a few seconds. How did she do that?

A: The pictures available on the Openmoko screen depends on where you are. When Jane opened the door and stepped inside the little tea house the pictures on her Openmoko changed to a set of pictures with some relevance to the situation she had to handle at that location. Tea brands, Buy, Pay the bill, Restroom, Taxi, Sugar, Lemon, you got he idea. And the heart is always there for her loved ones.

Q: So everybody 's got to have an Openmoko phone then?

Can Jane talk to a regular mobile/house phone or does it have to be an Openmoko at both ends?

A: Jane can use her Openmoko to call or pick up a call from any phone - any brand. When Jane is touching a picture on the Openmoko screen a sound player in the phone plays a sound snippet associated to that picture. Pointing at the picture is starting a sound player in the handset. The person Jane is talking to can hear the sound from the file being played.

Q: How could Jane's husband hear the street address of the small restaurant?

How could Jane's Openmoko "know" the street address when all it had was the GPS position?

A: If you are familiar with Google Maps, you know that you can type in a street address and get the map and exact GPS location. Use that database the other way around and you get the street address if you handle in a GPS location, it's called Reverse Geocoding. A simple text2speech application converts the address to sound.