Stefanie Blain studied the way that disabled children interacted as part of her doctoral studies at Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, Holland Bloorview, in Toronto. She observed that the children tried to communicate through small movements in their lips or by changes in breathing since they were otherwise unable to talk due to their injuries or disabilities.
When she was able to measure those small physiological signals, Blain was able to prove that one child named Max, a 15-year-old adolescent who was seemingly in a vegetative state, became excited when he saw his favorite toy. Even though Max was paralyzed, his body was still able to react through changes in his temperature, sweating, heart and breathing rates.
Blain then made up a graphic translation of these physiological signals, but it didn’t make much sense to other people. She is also a musician, so decided to try translating it into musical algorithms to convert them into sounds.
Later, her software proved that a child they had though totally unresponsive, got excited when some clowns came into his rom at the hospital. The program she created deciphers physiological signals and translates them into a range of tones, from soft low-pitched sounds when they are calm to high-pitched and more complex tones when they are happy.
The research continues so that they can make it possible for a child to also answer yes or no questions using the software.