‘The Big Life Fix’ on SBS – invention will have you fishing for a tissue

If you get a chance, try to catch Simon Reeve’s The Big Life Fix on SBS. I admit to a slight bias here because one of the inventors featured in the program is the talented Ruby Steel, a cousin of my wife. That being said, the series presents some truly inspiring inventions aimed at making life easier for people with desperately difficult personal situations.

The project in Episode 2, led by inventors Ruby and Ross, involves exploiting sound archives to give a stroke victim the ability to express emotion. You’ll need a box of tissues.

There’s a professional angle to this story: When I was a biggish cheese in the university world, I had a special admiration for design engineers because of their ability to work across disciplines and to plunder unfamiliar fields to find solutions. The design engineers seemed to me to epitomise what universities aspire to produce  – creative graduates.

Incidentally, the project reminded me of Charles Bliss‘s system of ‘semantography’ symbols,  which have been used to help disabled  people to communicate. When I was a student at the Australian National University, Bliss’s work attracted some interest. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow in Linguistics in 1979. His work continues nowadays through BCI.

You can find The Big Life Fix here.

Stuart Campbell writes quirky novels about love, betrayal and redemption.

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One thought on “‘The Big Life Fix’ on SBS – invention will have you fishing for a tissue”

  1. How extraordinary ! When I was doing some professional visits whilst travelling across the States and Canada then up to Alaska in December/January of ‘75/’76, I went to a centre for Cerebral Palsy kids in Toronto who were using Bliss symbols only to discover Charles Bliss was living in Coogee !
    I made an appointment to see him (after many refusals, he was quite reclusive by that stage) and interviewed him. I then wrote something up about him and presented it at POW and the when I did a stint at the Spastic Centre (shocking name – I think they refer to it as the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Centre now) and they were using the system. He also believed it was very bad to refer to children as ‘little monkey’ or any other animals and I mention in Part 2 when I describe attitudes to child rearing in Egypt, how uncomfortable I felt and always thought of him when they referred to children as ‘ya homarra’ or ‘enta homar’ almost as an endearment when children were incapable of doing something because they weren’t at that stage of development , physically or cognitively.
    So interesting how our professional paths have overlapped !

    Fond regards,
    Helena

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