Screenshot by Elizabeth Armstrong Moore/CNET)
It's been 12 years since Chad Ruble's mother suffered a stroke that led to aphasia, a disorder that affects language processing but not intelligence. Most of the one million Americans who have the disorder experience difficulty both reading and writing, according to the National Aphasia Association, and Chad's mother Lindy was unable to recognize text and thus unable to use a keyboard.
After designing a visual dashboard of emoticons (happy, sad, angry, tired, etc.), each of which can be further qualified by an amount (expressed as signal strength -- one, two, three, or four bars), Chad says he turned to a Kinect, some gesture recognition code, and the simple OpenNI library for Processing to track the position of his mother's hand. A green arrow button sends the email and a red X resets the screen.