Researchers at Samsung Italia, however, are adamant that the colorful pictograms offer an amazing opportunity to help those with a particular type of brain condition to communicate in a more meaningful and rewarding way.
The team focused on aphasia, a complex neurological disorder that affects the ability to understand and formulate language. According to Samsung, more than 3 million people worldwide have the condition, which is most often caused by an injury to the brain. For example, 30 percent of those who suffer a stroke experience a form of aphasia as a result.
Working with a group of speech therapists, Samsung Italia set about developing a new emoji-based app to give those with aphasia an opportunity to communicate more effectively with others.
It’s called Wemogee, and it includes a library of more than 140 phrases related to basic needs and emotional expressions.
“The predefined phrases are translated into logical sequences of emojis and are divided into six main categories including: Everyday life, eating and drinking, feelings, help, recreational activities, and anniversaries and celebrations,” Samsung explained in a release.
To use Wemogee, an aphasic patient first selects what it is they’d like to communicate by choosing from a list of visual options. Once they select the relevant emoji sequence, they can send it off to the nonaphasic recipient, who will see the message in text form. To reply, the procedure is reversed, with the recipient selecting from preset text phrases that are then converted into emojis for the aphasic patient. You can see Wemogee in action in the video above (it starts at the 2:24 mark).
“Aphasic patients understand emojis because they depict all aspects of emotions,” Francesca Polini, a speech therapist and professor at the University of Milan who helped develop Wemogee, said in the release. “The use of gestures, images and facial expressions is a function perfectly preserved in understanding and often also in the production of language.”
Samsung suggests Wemogee can function as a home practicing tool to complement other rehabilitation techniques for aphasia. In other words, the app can be used not only for long-distance communication as a messaging app, but also as a support for face-to-face interactions.
Wemogee is available for free on Android, while an iOS version is listed as “coming soon.”
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