“I had trouble communicating with my child and to me Angel Talk was like a real angel of communication bestowed upon me from the heaven” – The mother of a child with an Angelman syndrome, who was finally able to truly communicate with her child
“We wanted to create a special gift for the children who could not help but painfully laugh as they suffered from the Angelman syndrome. So, we got together and wondered what it is that we could do.” – The developer of SDS AngelTalk
AngleTalk is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) app that helps parents and their children with the Angelman syndrome communicate. Angelman syndrome is a rare form of disease that causes difficulty in communication due to developmental delays, speech impediments, seizures, spasms, and facial muscle contortions. For the children with this syndrome, communicating with their parents is one of the most important treatment there is.
AngelTalk is the first AAC app created solely for aiding the children with the Angelman syndrome in terms of their communications. It was created by the Samsung SDS Headquarters’ ACT (Agile Core Team) developers and the CX team designers as their social contribution pro bono project. The children with the syndrome has difficulty in spoken and written languages, therefore the AngelTalk allows the parents to take pictures of real life objects such as people or places, and convert it into graphical cards. The AngelTalk uses colors to aid in category perception and offer customized interaction with UX that boosts the children’s interest and favorability towards the App.
The fortunate meeting between the Samsung SDS and the affected children was very coincidental. The members of the Samsung SDS ACT group were awarded for their contribution to the development of creating a better in-house culture in 2016. They decided to donate their award money to a charitable foundation, and in their search, they came in contact with the mothers who had children with the Angelman syndrome.
One of the mothers said that “Our children are minority, even among other disabled children”, and that sentence caused a small wave in all of the team members’ heart. In order to provide the mothers and their children with a bit more comfort the 15 team members gathered voluntarily and started their pro bono project.
The most inconvenient aspect of the mothers and the children’s lives were their communication. The mothers could not understand the basic needs of the children such as whether or not they wanted to drink water or if they were hungry. They always had to struggle and play twenty questions with their children, keeping them from forming a bond.
The Samsung developers directly visited the children’s home in order to collect specific data about the needs of the children. They observed the children’s behavior, how the mothers coped with the situations, and how they communicated. For example, as the developers attended the children’s language/cognitive therapy classes they noticed that the children with the Angelman syndrome were more aware of colors than the others. Through these valuable processes, they created the ACC App AngelTalk tailored for the children and their mothers.
The Angel Talk created jointly by the Samsung SDS ACT group developers and
the CX team designers
(*The video does not have sound)
An insight into the diary of a mother whose child suffers from the Angelman syndrome
Day 1 using the App
We have been practicing mostly with things that are edible. A little resistance is shown because now the things that were done automatically had to be communicated to me through the app.
Day 5 using the App
He expressed what he wants to eat. When he pressed the things that he wanted to eat from the edibles category, the app made the corresponding sound, which I responded by giving him the food. I think he is starting to understand how the App works.
Day 8 using the App
He kept on pressing “please give me supper” button even after dinner. The older brother felt bad because he always gave his younger brother snacks because he thought his brother would prefer snacks over extra plate of dinner. I also feel bad. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would have been only to eat what has been given.
1 months since using the App
Now he is able to press exactly what he wants and signal me with a look. These days he keeps on pressing the “want to go to the amusement park” button during the nighttime. Should we go to the amusement park tomorrow?
What the children with the Angelman syndrome needed was not some fancy technology. The best technology that connects our heart starts begins from our warm attention.
Meanwhile, AngelTalk won the Frontier award at the HCI(Human-Computer Interaction) Korea 2018, the largest conference in the field of HCI, selected by the judges composed of expert participants and professors.
HCI is a convergent science that brings together cognitive engineering, psychology, social science, and design. It deals with human centered technology and design. In HCI Korea of 2018, various lectures, works shops, and discussions were held in order to bring up the emerging science, technologies, humanities, and design. The Korean enterprises and academic institutions participated and sponsored the event, sharing the latest technological trends and future directions.
Also, in 2017, the AngelTalk won the Reddot Award and also received a Bronze title from the International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) held by the Industrial Designer Society of America(IDSA) in the ‘Social Impact Design’ section, attaining honor and helping Samsung SDS become recognized for their excellence in innovation and design.
The IDEA award is one of the world’s top three design award that is in par with the “Red Dot Design Award’, and the ‘If Design Award.’ Companies like Samsung Electronics, IBM, and BMW are continuous participants. The criteria for nominations are innovative designs, customers’ value in their user experience, contribution to the social responsibilities, and the aesthetics.
So far, we have learned about the Augmentative and Alternative Communication(AAC) App AngelTalk, which helps children with the Angelman syndrome communicate with their parents. Next time we will learn about the development stories of AngelTalk straight from the developers themselves.