In Italy, more than 200,000 people suffer from aphasia: a very complex neurological disorder that affects the ability to understand and formulate language. It is triggered by injury to the Broca and Wernicke areas of the brain, the parts responsible for the production, comprehension and expression of speech. The most common causes are traumatic, hemorrhagic or ischemic: up to 30% of people who have suffered a stroke develop a form of aphasia.
This disorder has serious consequences on the lives of the patients and the people closest to them. Given that language is the most important tool for communication, aphasia can result in the loss of friends and cause extreme frustration, from an emotional point of view.
Dr. Giuseppe Sciarrone, Neurosurgeon Consultant at the Humanitas Gavazzeni Hospital in Milan, explains: "The aphasic patient is deprived of a whole range of tools that not only affect their ability to express everyday needs but also their emotions. This naturally causes a feeling of frustration and helplessness in people who are around him, which makes the patient retreat into himself more and more.”
This project was created in order to restore the possibility for aphasia sufferers to communicate easily and quickly with their friends and family.
In fact, Samsung WemogeeTM performs a dual function: for chatting with people far away and communication support for face-to-face interactions.
Through the translation of text to emoji and vice versa, the app allows the person affected with aphasia to communicate only through images. Samsung WemogeeTM is based on a library of more than 140 phrases: in collaboration with a team of speech therapists, a list of the most common phrases in informal chat was defined, relating to basic needs as well as to their emotions.
These words were then translated into logical sequences of emojis.
Aphasic patients identify what they want to communicate through a panel of exclusively visual options, sending the chosen sequence of emojis to the non-aphasic recipient. The non-aphasic user will receive the message in text form and can then reply using written words.
The Samsung WemogeeTM user experience has been designed around the needs of the final recipient. The simple and intuitive interface avoids overstressing the ideational area of the aphasic’s brain: through a single button, the patient can start or continue a chat with his contacts.
The predefined phrases on which to build communication have been divided into six main categories, to make the selection by the user easier; thanks to a careful study of the logical connections between the various phrases, Samsung WemogeeTM also offers a system of suggested answers to specific messages.
"The aphasic patients understand emojis because they represent all aspects of the emotions. At the end of the communication, it’s useful to have a clearly defined list of phrases related to immediate needs, in order to avoid having to think too much. During the various stages of development, Samsung WemogeeTM has been tested on different subjects with aphasia and we were able to confirm that the app is simple, intuitive and effective."
Speech therapist and Professor
at the University of Milan
"In the traditional treatment of language disorders, images and gestures play a key role because they go beyond the verbal barrier. In this regard, Samsung WemogeeTM is a truly new communication code.
The inclusion of suggested answers, linked to certain questions, is a simple interaction model, which facilitates the use by the aphasic patient, limiting his choice and therefore the possibility of making errors."
Director of the Department of Neurosciences
at the Niguarda Hospital in Milan