Posts Tagged smartphone

[WEB SITE] Smartphone apps can be memory aids for people with brain injuries, and everyone else

 

Smartphone apps allow us to outsource remembering appointments or upcoming tasks. It’s a common worry that using technology in this way makes our brain’s memory capacity worse, but the reality is not that simple.

In fact, these platforms can be useful, not only for people with memory impairments, but also the general population.

Over two studies, we set out to explore the potential of smartphones as memory aids by investigating how people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or with stroke use them.

We surveyed 29 people with TBI and 33 non-injured people for our TBI study. For the stroke study, we surveyed 29 participants with stroke and 29 with no history of neurological conditions.

We found that memory apps like calendars can be helpful for people with brain injuries. And while it was a small sample, we also found that for participants without brain injury, there was no relationship between memory app use and memory ability.

This finding requires further analysis, but it is not consistent with the idea that memory aids make our brains lazy. Rather, such apps can free our minds to focus on other things, without using up mental resources worrying about what needs to be remembered.

How does brain injury affect memory?

Memory difficulties are common after acquired brain injuries such as a stroke. Everyday problems include forgetting appointments, names and details, losing track of conversations and misplacing personal items.

Research on rehabilitation of memory after brain injury supports the use of compensatory strategies. These include internal or mental strategies such as mentally rehearsing a speech and external strategies, such as calendars, lists, notes, alarms and photos.

Traditionally, external memory aids have been in paper-based formats such as diaries and notes, which are bulky and easily lost. Research shows early technological aids such as pagers and Personal Digital Assistants were helpful in approving improving memory function, but unfamiliar and difficult to learn to use for many people with brain injury.

Smartphones have the potential to address the limitations of earlier devices. They are familiar to most people, at least in the developed world, and are highly portable.

Are smartphones useful memory aids?

In both studies, we found that the majority of people both with and without brain injury used smartphones for three main reasons: for communication, as a memory aid and for internet access.

When asked about the biggest benefit of using a smartphone, users with TBI and stroke most often cited its helpfulness as a memory aid. This contrasted with those with no history of brain injury, who instead listed portability, convenience and access to the internet as the main benefits.

The memory apps used most often by participants with TBI and stroke were calendars, alarms, contacts lists, reminder text messages, notes, cameras, and to-do lists. These apps help the user remember appointments, tasks, details and locations without relying on their internal memory capacity.

A cerebral infarction (ischemic stroke) at the brain’s left hemisphere . Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/Shutterstock

For people with TBI and those without any neurological conditions, there was no relationship between use of memory apps and performance on objective memory tests requiring recall of a list of words. This suggests that relying on memory aids did not influence intrinsic memory ability.

This result was important in counteracting the fear expressed by some TBI and stroke survivors that using a memory aid may make their memory abilities worse, just like using a wheelchair may make leg muscles weaker.

Our results indicate that this idea does not apply to memory among our sample group – rather, using memory aids is helpful for people who struggle to remember things by supporting their injured brains without causing any further damage.

For stroke survivors, more frequent use of memory apps also seems to be associated with higher productivity, as measured by their engagement in work, study and volunteer activities. This may mean that using smartphone memory apps enabled them to be more productive by supporting them to remember and organise tasks.

What are the barriers to using memory apps?

In both studies, we found that younger participants were more likely to use smartphones, suggesting that older adults may require more support in using them.

TBI and stroke survivors were also more likely to have difficulty learning to use their smartphone, and preferred being directly shown how to use it rather than learning by trial and error. Stroke survivors with motor (physical) symptoms used memory apps less frequently.

To further increase access to the benefits of smartphone memory apps, we now need to work out how to help users with brain injuries who may find them difficult to learn.

Our future research will aim to work out the most effective methods for teaching smartphone memory apps to people with memory impairment.

Source: Smartphone apps can be memory aids for people with brain injuries, and everyone else

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[WEB SITE] A New Way for Therapists to Get Inside Heads: Virtual Reality – The New York Times

Myla Fay, a product designer for Limbix, testing the start-up company’s virtual-reality therapy software with a headset in its offices in Palo Alto, Calif. Psychologists can use virtual reality to provide exposure therapy to patients confronting anxiety. Credit: Jason Henry for The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Dawn Jewell recently treated a patient haunted by a car crash. The patient had developed acute anxiety over the cross streets where the crash occurred, unable to drive a route that carried so many painful memories.

So Dr. Jewell, a psychologist in Colorado, treated the patient through a technique called exposure therapy, providing emotional guidance as they revisited the intersection together.

But they did not physically return to the site. They revisited it through virtual reality.

Dr. Jewell is among a handful of psychologists testing a new service from a Silicon Valley start-up called Limbix that offers exposure therapy through Daydream View, the Google headset that works in tandem with a smartphone.

“It provides exposure in a way that patients feel safe,” she said. “We can go to a location together, and the patient can tell me what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking.”

The service recreates outdoor locations by tapping into another Google product, Street View, a vast online database of photos that delivers panoramic scenes of roadways and other locations around the world. Using these virtual street scenes, Dr. Jewell has treated a second patient who struggled with anxiety after being injured by another person outside a local building.

A virtual reality therapy test using Limbix to simulate driving over a bridge. Credit: Limbix

The service is also designed to provide treatment in other ways, like taking patients to the top of a virtual skyscraper so they can face a fear of heights or to a virtual bar so they can address an alcohol addiction.

Backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Limbix is less than a year old. The creators of its new service, including its chief executive and co-founder, Benjamin Lewis, worked in the seminal virtual reality efforts at Google and Facebook.

The hardware and software they are working with is still very young, but Limbix builds on more than two decades of research and clinical trials involving virtual reality and exposure therapy. At a time when much-hyped headsets like the Daydream and Facebook’s Oculus are still struggling to find a wide audience in the world of gaming — let alone other markets — psychology is an area where technology and medical experts believe this technology can be a benefit.

As far back as the mid-1990s, clinical trials showed that this kind of technology could help treat phobias and other conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder.

Virtual reality cameras at Limbix. The creators of the service worked on virtual reality efforts at Facebook and Google. Credit: Jason Henry for The New York Times

Traditionally, psychologists have treated such conditions by helping patients imagine they are facing a fear, mentally creating a situation where they can address their anxieties. Virtual reality takes this a step further.

“We feel pretty confident that exposure therapy using V.R. can supplement what a patient’s imagination alone can do,” said Skip Rizzo, a clinical psychologist at the University of Southern California who has explored such technology over the past 20 years.

Barbara Rothbaum helped pioneer the practice at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and her work spawned a company called Virtually Better, which has long offered virtual reality exposure therapy tools to some doctors and hospitals through an older breed of headset. According to one clinical trial she helped build, virtual reality was just as effective as trips to airports in treating the fear of flying, with 90 percent of patients eventually conquering their anxieties.

Such technology has also been effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. Unlike treatments built solely on imagination, Dr. Rothbaum said, virtual reality can force patients to face their past traumas.

“PTSD is a disorder of avoidance. People don’t want to think about it,” she said. “We need them to be engaged emotionally, and with virtual reality, it’s harder for them to avoid that.”

The founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, demonstrating the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset and Oculus Touch hand controllers in 2015. Credit: Ramin Talaie for The New York Times

Now, headsets like Google’s Daydream, which works in tandem with common smartphones, and Facebook’s Oculus, the self-contained $400 headset that sparked the recent resurgence in virtual reality technologies, could potentially bring this kind of therapy to a much wider audience.

Virtually Better built its technology for virtual reality hardware that sold for several thousands of dollars. Today, Limbix and other companies, including a Spanish start-up called Psious, can offer services that are far less expensive. This week, Limbix is beginning to offer its tools to psychologists and other therapists outside its initial test. The service is free for now, with the company planning to sell more advanced tools at some point.

The Limbix mobile app for virtual-reality therapy. The service is free for now, and the company plans to sell more advanced tools in the future. Credit: Limbix

After testing the Limbix offering, Dr. Jewell said it allowed patients to face their anxieties in more controlled ways than they otherwise could. At the same time, such a tool can truly give patients the feeling that they are being transported to a different locations — at least in some cases.

Standing atop a virtual skyscraper, for instance, can cause anxiety even in those who are relatively comfortable with heights. Experts warn that a service like the one offered by Limbix requires the guiding hand of trained psychologists while still in development.

Limbix combines technical and medical expertise. One key employee, Scott Satkin, is a robotics and artificial intelligence researcher who worked on the Daydream project at Google. Limbix also works with its own psychologist, Sean Sullivan, who continues to run a therapy practice in San Francisco.

Dr. Sullivan is using the new service to treat patients, including a young man who recently developed a fear of flying, something that causes anxiety simply when he talks about it. Using the service alongside Dr. Sullivan, the young man, who asked that his name be withheld for privacy reasons spent several sessions visiting a virtual airport and, eventually, flying on a virtual plane.

In some ways, the young man said, the service is still less than perfect. Like the Street View scenes Dr. Jewell uses in treating her patients, some of this virtual reality is static, built from still images. But like the rest of the virtual reality market, these tools are still evolving toward more realistic scenes.

And even in its current form, the service can be convincing. The young man recently took a flight across the country — here in the real world.

The New York Times

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[Project Report] “Active on Wheels” INF2260/4060 H2016 – Full Text PDF

1. Introduction

The “Active on Wheels” project is done in collaboration with Matthijs Wouda at Sunnaas Sykehus HF, and our project statement is simply put to design a useful, inspiring, and motivating interface for the “Active on Wheels” app. The app combines a smartphone, fitness-armband, and a heart rate monitor belt to provide accurate energy expenditure (how many calories you use) for wheelchair users. The app exists today with a functional, but bare bones design (See Fig 1), which our task is to change. The goal of the app is to enable exercise measuring and tracking for disabled people outside of hospital settings, in order to motivate and support them to exercise and work out.

Full Text PDF

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[Abstract] A Rehabilitation-Internet-of-Things in the Home to Augment Motor Skills and Exercise Training

Abstract

Although motor learning theory has led to evidence-based practices, few trials have revealed the superiority of one theory-based therapy over another after stroke. Nor have improvements in skills been as clinically robust as one might hope.

We review some possible explanations, then potential technology-enabled solutions. Over the Internet, the type, quantity, and quality of practice and exercise in the home and community can be monitored remotely and feedback provided to optimize training frequency, intensity, and progression at home. A theory-driven foundation of synergistic interventions for walking, reaching and grasping, strengthening, and fitness could be provided by a bundle of home-based Rehabilitation Internet-of-Things (RIoT) devices. A RIoT might include wearable, activity-recognition sensors and instrumented rehabilitation devices with radio transmission to a smartphone or tablet to continuously measure repetitions, speed, accuracy, forces, and temporal spatial features of movement.

Using telerehabilitation resources, a therapist would interpret the data and provide behavioral training for self-management via goal setting and instruction to increase compliance and long-term carryover. On top of this user-friendly, safe, and conceptually sound foundation to support more opportunity for practice, experimental interventions could be tested or additions and replacements made, perhaps drawing from virtual reality and gaming programs or robots. RIoT devices continuously measure the actual amount of quality practice; improvements and plateaus over time in strength, fitness, and skills; and activity and participation in home and community settings. Investigators may gain more control over some of the confounders of their trials and patients will have access to inexpensive therapies.

Source: A Rehabilitation-Internet-of-Things in the Home to Augment Motor Skills and Exercise Training

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[Abstract] A Rehabilitation-Internet-of-Things in the Home to Augment Motor Skills and Exercise Training

Abstract

Although motor learning theory has led to evidence-based practices, few trials have revealed the superiority of one theory-based therapy over another after stroke. Nor have improvements in skills been as clinically robust as one might hope. We review some possible explanations, then potential technology-enabled solutions. Over the Internet, the type, quantity, and quality of practice and exercise in the home and community can be monitored remotely and feedback provided to optimize training frequency, intensity, and progression at home. A theory-driven foundation of synergistic interventions for walking, reaching and grasping, strengthening, and fitness could be provided by a bundle of home-based Rehabilitation Internet-of-Things (RIoT) devices. A RIoT might include wearable, activity-recognition sensors and instrumented rehabilitation devices with radio transmission to a smartphone or tablet to continuously measure repetitions, speed, accuracy, forces, and temporal spatial features of movement. Using telerehabilitation resources, a therapist would interpret the data and provide behavioral training for self-management via goal setting and instruction to increase compliance and long-term carryover. On top of this user-friendly, safe, and conceptually sound foundation to support more opportunity for practice, experimental interventions could be tested or additions and replacements made, perhaps drawing from virtual reality and gaming programs or robots. RIoT devices continuously measure the actual amount of quality practice; improvements and plateaus over time in strength, fitness, and skills; and activity and participation in home and community settings. Investigators may gain more control over some of the confounders of their trials and patients will have access to inexpensive therapies.

Source: A Rehabilitation-Internet-of-Things in the Home to Augment Motor Skills and Exercise Training

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[Blog post] 10 DISASTER APPS THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE

SEPTEMBER 5, 2016
In 2016, there is a great need to explore faster and more effective methods of activating relief efforts. These apps can help keep you and your family safe in the event of an emergency. If you, or someone you know, has a disability which will make escaping a disaster situation not easy, it is imperative to plan ahead and give yourself enough time.

text description of infographic is below

 

Text description:

  1. Disaster Alert
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

Disaster Alert by the Pacific Disaster Centre provides mobile access to multi-hazard monitoring of and early warning for “active hazards” aroudn the globe.

  1. First Aid by American Red Cross
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

Features simple step-by-step instructions that guide you through everyday first aid scenarios.

  1. Global Emergency Overview
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

The app allows you to quickly browse through the different countries included in the overview while providing easy access to more in-depth sectoral analysis and baseline information.

  1. Humanitarian Kiosk
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

The Humanitarian Kiosk created by the United Nations provides a range of up-to-the-minute humanitarian related information from emergencies around the world.

  1. Real Time Warning
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

Real Time Warning offers alerts about disasters around the world. Users select an event to see its location, damage, severity, and rumble radius on a world map.

  1. Earthquake Alert!
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

Earthquake Alert offers information about earthquakes with a magnitude of 1.0 and up in the US and magnitude of 4.0 and up from anywhere else in the world.

  1. SirenGPS
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

With SIrenGPS you can contact the emergency services with the tap of the button and it instantly gives them your exact location and personal details.

  1. Red Panic Button
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

By simply pushing the red panic buton, this app will send your GPS coordinates and a link to Google Maps by SMS or email to previously specified contact list.

  1. Life360
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

Life 360 allows you and your family to set up a private network, then with a click of a button, you can let yourr family where you are and if you’re safe.

  1. Guardly
    Available on: iOS, Android
    Price: Free

Guardly enables you to receive emergency and operational alerts from your company or company’s security team in the event of an emergency at work.

Emergency Checklist

In the event of an emergency:

  1. Assess your personal safety before taking action.
  2. Call emergency services and tell them:
    a. The location of the emergency including nearby landmarks.
    b. The telephone number from where the call is being made.
    c. What happened.
    d. How many people require assistance.
    e. Condition of the people.
    f. What assistance is being given.
    g. Stay on the line until the operator says it’s okay to hang up.
  3. Try to stay calm until the emergency services arrive.

References:

News.abs-cbn.com/ Lifestyle/ 07/ 17/ 15/ 7-mobile-apps-can-help-during-natural-disasters
Heavy.com/tech/2015/09/top-5-best-free-disaster-emergency-red-cross-apps-for-iphone-android thenextweb.com/Insider/2015/11/17/7—essential-personal-safety-apps-for-emergency-situations/#gref
iphonelife.com/content/top-iphone-features-and-apps-can-save-your-life
Au.reachout.com/what-to-do-in-an-emergency

Source: Nature’s Water Ltd.

Source: 10-disaster-apps-that-could-save-your-life-infographic – Assistive Technology Blog

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[WEB SITE] Samsung Unveils Prototype Stroke Detecting Headset

samsung-stroke

While brain monitoring using EEG is not a new technique, advancements in technology may allow it to be used for detecting a variety of conditions that are currently hard to diagnose. Samsung is continuing to show evidence that it’s serious about getting a major foothold in the medical field with the announcement that it’s been working on a wearable EEG headset that can be used by patients themselves to detect signs of stroke as well as for regular monitoring to gauge stress levels, analyze sleep, and other brain health parameters that are often not measured quantitatively.

The Early Detection Sensor & Algorithm Package (EDSAP) will pair up with a user’s smartphone or tablet to display the results of the ECG tests, which can be done within about a minute. The company says that its sensors are able to pickup a much higher quality signal than current EEG headsets thanks to newly developed dry electrodes made of a novel material discovered by the group. The material is rubbery in feel, is highly conductive, and doesn’t require a gel or saline solution to be applied to make a good electrical connection with the scalp.

On the software side, Samsung’s team developed an algorithm that compares a particular EEG scan against a previous analysis of a bunch of stroke patient EEG scans. Using signal processing and artificial intelligence methods, the algorithm aims to spot telltale signs of stroke. In addition to this technology finding its way into ambulances and emergency rooms, the company believes that it can be used by patients themselves that suspect having had a minor stroke. Moreover, the dry electrodes may allow other form factors to help monitor EEG over longer periods by embedding the electrodes into the tips of glasses or into headphones to grab brainwaves through the temples.

While the technology is currently being explored for EEG, the researchers believe that it can be translated to monitor the heart via ECG.

Source: Samsung Unveils Prototype Stroke Detecting Headset | Medgadget

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[ARTICLE] Design of a Smartphone Application with Integrated Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Treatment Randomization and On-The-Fly Stimulus Parameter Adjustment for Streamlining the Clinical Evaluation of FES Protocols – Full Text PDF

Abstract

The clinical application of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) has evolved over the last five decades.

However, the use of the Randomized Control Trial (RCT) methodology in evaluating the clinical effectiveness of new and existing applications of FES is a demanding process adding time and cost to these trials.

Consequently, there has been a low level of RCTs applied to FES studies. Poor quality trials result in poor evidence of FES effectiveness with a consequence that the technique may not be adopted into clinical practice.

In this paper some of the key challenges encountered in FES randomised control clinical trials are identified and a solution to address these challenges is presented in the form of a smartphone App and a Bluetooth controlled FES architecture.

The design and evaluation of a smartphone application using a User Centred Design approach to provide automatic blind randomization control and facilitating the wireless temporal control of a portable Bluetooth enabled FES device is described.

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[WEB SITE] Handable Aims to Help Those with Hand and Wrist Mobility Issues Hold Phones and Tablets with Ease

Published on October 16, 2015

Mobile Innovations Inc Hand-Held Phone Holder

The HandAble Company, a division of Mobile Innovations, introduces the Handable handheld phone holder, an accessory built to enable those who experience short- or long-term hand and wrist issues hold their cell phones and tablets more easily.

According to a media release from the company, the accessory features a peel-and-stick design that attaches to any smartphone or tablet. Once attached, the top of Handable extends away from the back of the device. The user then slides their fingers underneath.

The Handable then enables the user to provide a strong grip on the cell phone or tablet without needing to use grasping muscles.

With the Handable in place, the cell phone or tablet device remains free for the user to rotate, without having to worry about worsening their injury when using devices for an extended period, the release continues.

For more information, visit the HandAble Company.

Source: Handable Aims to Help Those with Hand and Wrist Mobility Issues Hold Phones and Tablets with Ease – Rehab Managment

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[WEB SITE] Smartphones, Apps Prove Liberating For Those With Special Needs.

Ruben Morales, a 59-year-old retired engineer who is blind and lives in Silicon Valley, has used a specialized screen-reading program for years to write and run spreadsheets on his desktop computer.

But recently, he figuratively cut the cord to his desktop and joined the mobile revolution. Morales was visiting an area Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center, learning how to use an iPhone’s features for people with vision impairment.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Morales said, demonstrating how he can call up a song and play it with a few taps. “Whatever I can do on the computer I can basically do it on the iPhone. It has the same capability.”

The smartphone, a gadget designed for the sighted, has turned out to be a godsend for those who are blind and visually impaired, making them more independent than ever before.

With VoiceOver, the iPhone’s built-in gesture-based app that reads text on a touch-screen aloud, or Google Android’s TalkBack, users who are blind can access anything on their phones. The user activates apps with a few gestures — single finger to explore and find buttons, one-finger touch to identify things on the screen and double-tap to push the button after it’s located.

“It’s a learning curve, but you can learn to do every single thing on an iPhone that anyone else can do,” said Lee Huffman, editor of AccessWorld, published by the American Foundation for the Blind. “These devices are opening up a whole new world.”

It didn’t look like it would turn out that way at first.

“The blind community started getting really panicky” when smartphones and later, tablets, took off following the iPhone’s debut in 2007, researcher Joshua Miele, associate director of Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, recalled. “Touch-screens were a real concern.

”But in 2009, Apple included VoiceOver in its mobile operating system, and followed up with the personal assistant Siri in 2011, launching a new world of mobility for the visually impaired. Google added TalkBack, a screen reader, to its Android operating system in 2009 and Google Now, a personal assistant, in 2012. Microsoft mobile has similar features.

“It’s made a huge difference, productivity-wise,” said Jennison Asuncion, accessibility leader at LinkedIn, who is blind. “I use my mobile phone probably even more than lot of people.”

Erin Lauridsen, 32, a trainer at the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco, has been blind since birth and grew up using expensive, clunky, single-purpose devices for doing coursework in school. “When the iPhone 3GS came out with VoiceOver built in it was a huge game-changer for me and a lot of other people,” she said.

She uses an app called BlindSquare for navigation; Money Reader to identify currency denominations; and Voice Dream Reader to assemble audio play lists of documents from many sources. She also uses Uber and a lot of other popular apps.

“I’m on an equal footing with what everyone else does — the Yelping, Facebooking and Twittering,” she said.

People who are visually impaired want to use their mobile phones like anyone else, said Astrid Weber, who researches user experience at Google, visiting people who are visually impaired in their homes to see what they need and how they use technology.

“Mobility is really important for them,” she said.

Google Now — the Android personal assistant — is popular with users with vision impairment, said Eve Andersson, manager of Google’s accessibility engineering. Her parents who are vision impaired use it all the time, she said. “They ask their phones questions, ask it to call me, ask it for directions and create reminders. They love being able to do that with their voice.

”For years there have been screen readers for desktop computers. OutSpoken, developed by Berkeley Systems in the late 1980s, was the first for the Mac, according to Smith-Kettlewell’s Miele, who worked for the company.

But while VoiceOver and TalkBack broke the tether to the desktop, third-party apps still have to be made accessible to people with disabilities.

There’s a legal issue too. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires websites and mobile applications to be accessible, said disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold, although regulations are still being worked on by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Google announced Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities last year with a $20 million grant for technology innovators in the nonprofit community who work on technology to make people with disabilities more independent. “We’re actively looking for proposals,” said Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink of Google.org….

Continue —> Smartphones, Apps Prove Liberating For Those With Special Needs – Disability Scoop

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