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.