Chair lights up pupils' senses

22nd December 2006 at 00:00
(Photograph) - Farhad Ali, 5, (right) who has cerebral palsy, helped develop the new Active Chair simulator for children with special needs, which was unveiled at the Science Museum in London.

It was developed by robotics expert Dr Brian Duffy at Smartlab at the University of East London. He and his unit worked with Farhad and his classmates at the Stephen Hawking school in Limehouse, east London.

The chair allows children to watch and control a story on the curved screen, as it swoops and soars to bring a story to life.

Not only does it teach learn motor skills and vocabulary, it also gives pupils a computer gaming experience far beyond anything found in arcades.

Molly Doyle (with Farhad, right), creative arts co-ordinator at the school, has been working with Smartlab to create a simulator that was "more creative, more Xbox-ey" for her 18 special needs pupils.

"The Active Chair comes to life as it tells the story on the screen - when the character is flying, the chair can move up as it it was flying," she said.

* www.smartlab.uk.com

Photograph:Neil Turner

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