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Validating an infrared thermal switch as a novel access technology

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 11:03 by Negar Memarian, Anastasios Venetsanopoulos, Tom Chau
Background Recently, a novel single-switch access technology based on infrared thermography was proposed. The technology exploits the temperature differences between the inside and surrounding areas of the mouth as a switch trigger, thereby allowing voluntary switch activation upon mouth opening. However, for this technology to be clinically viable, it must be validated against a gold standard switch, such as a chin switch, that taps into the same voluntary motion. Methods In this study, we report an experiment designed to gauge the concurrent validity of the infrared thermal switch. Ten able-bodied adults participated in a series of 3 test sessions where they simultaneously used both an infrared thermal and conventional chin switch to perform multiple trials of a number identification task with visual, auditory and audiovisual stimuli. Participants also provided qualitative feedback about switch use. User performance with the two switches was quantified using an efficiency measure based on mutual information. Results User performance (p = 0.16) and response time (p = 0.25) with the infrared thermal switch were comparable to those of the gold standard. Users reported preference for the infrared thermal switch given its non-contact nature and robustness to changes in user posture. Conclusions Thermal infrared access technology appears to be a valid single switch alternative for individuals with disabilities who retain voluntary mouth opening and closing.