Meeting may determine standards

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Trace Research and Development Centre will host a meeting this week to help develop all-purpose ‘remote controls’ for people with disabilities.

The V2 technical committee meeting of the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) plans to meet in Madison to develop voluntary consensus standards for an Alternative Interface Access Protocol (AIAP).

A major goal underpinning development of these standards is to allow mobile technologies such as cell phones, handheld computers and other devices, to function as universal remote consoles for common electronic and information technology devices and services.

With such standards, a personal digital assistant could be used to program VCRs, set the home thermostat from work, or if the user’s eyesight is failing, act on voice commands to program a coffeepot or activate a home alarm system.

The technical standards would also allow someone with a disability to use an assistive technology device like a Braille-based notebook to access automated teller or fare machines and electronic products in the home.

The AIAP standard could also ease the burden of recent US government regulations, such as Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, to provide access to electronic and information technologies by people with disabilities.

Standards also would simplify or eliminate customisation of assertive technologies to individual devices.

Future implementations of the standard will take advantage of existing standard protocols for networking environments, such as Microsoft’s Universal Plug and Play and Sun’s Jinni, and existing wireless communication technologies such as 802.11b and Bluetooth.

UW-Madison’s Trace Centre is committed to support V2’s standards development by hosting a prototyping and evaluation project for a remote console specification.