Dream Machines – and their effects
A Dream Machine helps you to make a dream come true – to be able to do something that was impossible or very hard to do before, like answering "yes" and "no", keeping track of your shopping list in the store, getting started on an activity, calling a friend by touching their picture on a screen, having a calendar functions that works for you, having a text read out loud when its hard for you to read, or finding your way home. The list of dreams in infinitely long.
Modern technology and ongoing technological development
Mobile technology, in the form of mobile phones and handheld computers, is becoming more and more powerful and versatile with every year that passes. Interaction with high resolution graphic touch screens, gesture control, accelerometers and vibrators, GPS and compasses with maps, good cameras, OCR, synthetic speech, RFID, Internet, radio, TV, speech, music, etc., is becoming standard and more is on the way. Because mobile phones and handheld computers are programmable, they can be individually adapted by means of special programs and with that, satisfy the dreams of the user. In this way, these devices can be a source of great enjoyment and assistance for many people with different disabilities.
Free Dream Machines form Certec's Dream Machine Factory
Thanks to a two-year grant from the Sparbanken Finn Future Foundation, we have been able to develop a number of dream machines for handheld computers, mobile phones and other computers based on Windows or Windows Mobile and to distributed the software free of charge.
• To invent and construct a number of new dream machines (on the individual or group level) based on recently developed functionality and new advances in technology.
• To test the new dream machines in "nurseries", the number of which will be gradually increased.
• To revise, eliminate shortcomings and establish quality assurance; write user guidelines; make the dream machines available without charge.
• To further develop the dream machine concept based on new hardware in mobile phones, handheld computers, etc. In a year, these devices will offer new functions (that we can only guess at now) and at least twice as good performance at the same prices as today.
Strengthen dissemination efforts
The dream machines come with user guidelines (with many examples from the testing stage). We also plan to significantly increase our dissemination efforts so that we can surpass the critical mass of users needed to reach a broader circle of users and organizations. We also hope for imitators: more researchers and developers utilizing the fact that costs only marginally increase in the information technology context when you distribute to many than to just a few. That is why the dream machines can be given away (based on the joy of giving) without any significant extra cost.
The gift economy is really nothing new in the university context. Being able to give something away – and being the first to do so – has been a driving force and a recognized qualification not only for the individual researcher or research group, but for the entire university and to a certain extent, for the entire nation. Tax revenues, research foundation funds and sponsor donations have thus been and are being used to finance research and establish universities. For hundreds of years we have let the old economy finance what today is referred to as "the new economy" in areas that deal with knowledge and information. But we have stopped at the point of publishing our results and have not been able to go further and freely distribute the products – previously, this has not been technologically possible. What we are now doing with the Minimeter and other dream machines is simply taking this last step so that the results can end up in the hands of the users.
The concept of "product" is being stretched. It is possible to construct the shell of the product with existing standard technology and through the software, make it into a new product, tailored to answer a given user need. The new "product" that we want to develop from this point of view will respond to the dreams of people in otherwise disadvantaged groups. The dream machines can (easily) be filled with specific content by the person who will be using it or by someone close to them (family, friends, staff) directly via the "Explorer" in a standard computer.
Examples of early Dream Machines
The Dream Machines pictured below are good examples, but the implementation on them in Windows Mobile based handheld computers or mobile phones are outdated. They have been developed and tested for the HP iPAQ 214.
Do It Like This!
Yes and No
This Is What I Want!
The This Is What I Want! dream machine helps you to ask for something you desire, to exercise you will. The touch screen displays something attractive to the user, such as a bottle of Coca-Cola. When the user touches the bottle with her finger, the handheld computer answers, "I want a bottle of Coca-Cola, please." This application is used in special education classes.
What Shall We Do?
The My Days dream machine was designed for a 50-year old employee with severe ADHD to help structure his life and work schedule. My Days will now be tested by several others.
Modern and inexpensive technology that helps people with severe brain injuries to communicate. Read more about the Minimeter.
More Dream Machines in progress. . .
There are many more dream machines in the experimental and idea stage. . .
Dream Machine competition. . .
Design your own dream machine! The best proposal will be awarded a diploma and prize money, not to mention the honor. The winning dream machines will be constructed (within reason) and made available to all. Think about it, come up with a sketch and description and send your design to me: firstname.lastname@example.org