You use them to wash your teeth, tie your shoes, eat, use your phone, and work on your computer. But what if you couldn’t use your hands at all or could only use them a little? Let’s know how you can use your voice to control welding machines.

LIFEtool is a non-profit business in Linz, Upper Austria, that helps people with disabilities get the most out of technology. LIFEtool develops mouth-operated computer mice for high-paraplegics. Voice commands could make it even easier and faster for people with disabilities to use a computer. This would be very important for things like e-sports.

But how does this relate to welding? For a precise weld seam, the welder needs to use both hands to guide the welding torch. One hand feeds filler metal while the other handles the torch for TIG welding. This makes it nearly hard to adjust welding equipment parameters like amperage or arc length without interrupting welding. In this case, voice control could be helpful.

How to Use Your Voice to Control a Welding Machine.

The Hagenberg campus of FH OOE, Fronius, and LIFEtool created a welding machine voice control system in 2018. But the goal of this joint research project wasn’t just to give welders a new way to use welding machines. It was also about bringing people together.

The research project was based on the problems that welders and people with disabilities face at work. Mirjam Augstein from the Hagenberg campus of the FH OOE led the academic side of the project. “We made a voice control system that takes into account the needs of both groups. “One can use this in industrial welding equipment and as a supplement to LIFEtool’s mouth-controlled computer mouse,” says the researcher. The name of the project shows what the research partners’ main goal is: WIFI stands for “Welding Interaction in Future Industry,” and welding interaction in the industry of the future will be done through voice control. As a part of the BRIDGE1 programme, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency helped pay for the research project.

Joint research project that won an award and had good results.

This project will give the three partners a chance to share their knowledge and skills. “If you create them in big quantities for industrial use, solutions and supports for persons with disabilities could become cheaper,” says LIFEtool Head of Research and Development Karl Kaser. Even though the new voice control system for welding machines is still a long way from being standard, the joint research project has already had its first successes: In 2018, the Science Award for Inclusion was given to the project by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health, and Consumer Protection.