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U Mass Senior Answers Family's Plea for Assistive Tech

An electrical engineering student at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell designed a voice-activated computer cursor in response to a cry for help posted on the Internet from the parents of a 5-year-old Italian girl who's been paralyzed since the age of 2.

Senior Michael Darish designed an apparatus for the girl that allows her to click and drag her computer cursor using only her voice. Darish traveled to Italy over his spring break to deliver the system in person to the girl, Anna Magliano.

Magliano is quadriplegic. Her parents had tried to find a technology that would allow her to communicate more easily via the computer, a search that led them to the assistive technology program at Lowell.

For his project, Darish used a voice recognition chip and wrote software for a device that allows her to move her computer cursor as well as to turn on three different toys. The device is about the size of a toaster oven and houses its own microprocessor.

Darish's project is one of about 60 assistive tech projects that senior EE students complete each semester as a graduate requirement.

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