Kitchen Robotic

Home automation for the elderly and disabled focuses on helping them to become more independent and be more comfortable at home. You may already know of some home automation/robotics products that perform or help in household chores such as a robot which can vacuum floors, or another that controls lights and temperature remotely.

Cooking is difficult for many disabled or elderly. A company called Moley Robotics (http://www.moley.com/) introduced an intelligent cooking robot a few years ago and is planning to start selling in 2019. However, the price will be very high and the product is not easy to purchase for those on a middle-income. Developing Kitchen Robotic face challenges such as making available with low cost to all disabled persons, making the system user-friendly so that they can operate easily, and customizing to each individual’s needs, capabilities, and their environments.

Kitchen Robotic

YouTube Video: Moley Robotic

An automated kitchen idea is adapted not only for disabled persons, but also it may also help to serve meals faster and more reasonable. Spyce Kitchen (https://spyce.com/) founded by MIT mechanical engineering graduates in Boston opened a restaurant where meals are prepared in a fully automated, robotic-powered kitchen. Each meal can be cooked in 3 minutes and costs only $7.50. We hope that Kitchen Robotics developed for home will be offered to public like this at an affordable price in the future so that elderly and disabled persons can enjoy meals at home.

Spyce

YouTube video: Spyce Kitchen

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JABTalk Android App

If you are looking for a free Android Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) app to communicate with child who needs assistance with verbal communication, you may want to try this free app called JABtalk.

You can create/customize your personal communication sets by taking pictures or using the existing photos on your phone or tablet. For example, you can record words or sentences with your voice and associate to the image. It is recommend that you plan ahead and decide what categories you need in your daily conversation with the child so that you can organize words and sentences into user-defined categories to make it easier to use.

JABtalk can be beneficial not only for expanding communication skills for child at home, but it is also suitable for learning in a classroom setting. It offers one-click navigation with physical feedback (vibration). It is easy to rearrange and resize pictures, and supports text-to-speech. If you are creating audio recording on a computer, you can use an audio program such as Audacity. It can run on a Kindle-Fire tablet in addition to Android device. Listed below are a few tutorial videos on their website. More information, go to: http://www.jabstone.com/

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Stairlift

A stairlift (or chair lift) is a motor-powered chair that moves along a track on a straight or curved staircase. Indoor and outdoor models are available on the market. Persons with limited mobility can sit on the lift chair and travel up or down the stairs. In most cases, a person can operate a button or a switch that is located near or on the armrest of the chair. It is battery operated so you can use during a power outage. It is usually installed to the treads of the stairs and not the wall. You can fold up the stairlift’s arms, seat, and footrest when it is not in use.

Unfortunately Medicare does not cover stairlifts. It is recommend that you ask yourself some questions before you select a stairlift that is right for you such as:
Temporary or permanent, what size (weight), type of stairs you have, a door close to your stairs, swivel seats, safety belts, battery backup, foot rest, folding rails, etc. You may have an option of trying different stairlifts in a showroom or rent one for a while, depending on the manufactures.

Some companies offer products to install by yourself ($1500 – $3000). According to Home Adviser, the national average of stairlift installation by a professional costs between $2400 and $6000.

Stairlift

A few Stair Lift Companies’ list: Click here

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, Elderly, Home Automation, House Automation, Mobility, Smart Home | Leave a comment

Wearable Camera

Holiday season is just around corner. For the many upcoming occasions, you may find the following wearable camera or a camera with accessories (i.e. vest) may allow a person, who has difficulty holding a camera, take pictures more easily. The following are some examples of wearable cameras.

MeCam
About Product: https://mecam.me/products/mecam-neo
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc4rktLpEkY

GoPro:
About Product: https://shop.gopro.com/cameras
Accessory: https://shop.gopro.com/mounts/sports-kit/AKTAC-001.html
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dYouSEBKiU

Snap Inc. Wearable Spectacles
About Product: https://www.spectacles.com/features
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFi8Z7G-hVg

iON SnapCam Lite Wearable Camera
About Product: https://usa.ioncamera.com/snapcam/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYyK9CyCBFo

FrontRow FR Wearable lifestyle Camera
About Product: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/front-row-wearable-lifestyle-camera-preview/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K4rpESIu_M

Mofily YoCam
About Product: http://www.getyocam.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJTlsQzy3QQ

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Device, Mobility, Wearable devices | Leave a comment

Power attachment for Manual Wheelchair

Pushrim-propelled wheelchairs are light and easy to use indoors because of their good indoor maneuverability but are not as easy to get around outdoors.  Electric Attachable Handcycle for Wheelchair may benefit manual wheelchair users who like to go outdoors often or need to travel an extended distance daily. Electric Attachable Handcyle converts a manual wheelchair into a motorized wheelchair capable of speeds up to 12 mph.

Some users stated that electric handcycle wheelchair can help them steer their wheelchairs easily outdoors, travel faster, and handle bumpy terrain better. Although the speed slows down on steep hills, and the performance is poor on grass surface, users enjoy more independence and freedom. Feedback about its disadvantages are: these electric handcycle wheelchair attachments are expensive, assembling mechanism may be difficult for some users, insurance companies may not cover the cost, and repairs may be a challenge if it breaks down, and accidents (i.e. falling) may occur more often due to its increased speed. It may require assistance to connect and disconnect the handcyle attachment from your wheelchair. However, it may be an effective solution for the active wheelchair users to get around outdoors.

There are a few manufactures make electric handcycle wheelchairs attachment for wheelchairs.  Example:  Freedom-Cycle DXM-36        Firefly Fully Electric attachment

It is recommended that you find out if they offer a loaner for a trial period before you purchase and what type of maintenance and support are available after the purchase. Some product information through online may not be updated frequently, and the customer services and support may vary (i.e. imported products).

A much more costly option, but you may find that adding a device called the SmartDrive electric power system onto your manual wheelchair may also fit to your daily activities. Here is a comparison between SmartDrive MX2 vs Rio Mobility Firefly.

A YouTube video by the CIL

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Device, Mobility, Transportation for wheelchair users, Transportations | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Low-tech solutions for daily life

There are many low-tech and affordable devices can help persons with disabilities improve their independence. The following are a few examples of low-tech options, which can be helpful for persons with mobility and lower body challenges in daily activities such as getting up and down from a sitting position, moving your legs, putting socks, etc.
If you have elderly or family members who have difficulty to get up from a sofa because of their age or  a surgery (i.e. Achilles tendon repair), the assistive device like Able Life Universal Stand may allow them to stand up independently. According to its specification, it supports the weight of up to 300 lbs., and it comes with height adjustable legs and handles. It is supplied with an assist bar to stand easily from most couches, chairs, or recliners. Able Life Universal Stand costs around $79, considerably less than an expensive lift chair.

Universal Stand Assist – Able Life
(YouTube video by Able Life)

A Leg Lifter strap can help persons who are recovering from leg or hip surgery or suffering from arthritis. This low-tech device helps the person’s affected leg be maneuvered into place and safely re-positioned.

How to Get Out of Bed Easier Using a Leg Lifter
(YouTube video by Adaptive Equipment Corner)

Other leg lifter straps
https://www.vivehealth.com/blogs/resources/leg-lifter-strap

The Sock Assist Device is another low-tech option to help persons who are recovering from surgery such as knee replacement or those with limited mobility. Those who have difficulty reaching toes and putting on socks have found this device to be very useful. Some people have found it difficult to follow the instructions or the size may be too large. However, as it only costs around $10 – $20, it is probably worth a trial.

Sock Assist by Vive – Stocking Puller Assistant Aid – Compression Sock Helper Elderly, Pregnant

 

This invention helps people put on their socks without bending down.
(YouTube video by Insider)

 

 

 

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Cyber Eyez M300 – smart glasses

Smartglasses or smart glasses are wearable computer glasses that provide additional information alongside to what the wearer sees (i.e. Wikipedia article).

Most of manufactures that develop smart glasses focus on including features such as clear pictures, videos, music, light weight, long battery life, light level adjustments, styles, and have compatibility to run on multiple devices with different operating systems. I am not a user of smart glasses, but I am always interested in accessibility that these glasses on the market can provide or what kinds of features are included to help persons with special needs. Visually impaired persons require additional features from smart glasses. I posted a blog about one smart glasses products, OrCam, in January, 2018. Cyber Eyez (Cyber Times) apps running on Vuzix M300 smart glasses is another accessibility option that may be suitable for persons who are visually impaired. Both smart glasses can recognize objects, personal items and people’s faces and read it back, but one of the differences between these two products is that Cyber Eyez can magnify up to 15X.
However, Cyber Eyez may require additional improvements such as a larger display screen for persons with very limited vision.

Cyber Eyez features include:

  • Real-time Magnification up to 15x.
  • Read to Text (OCR) for over 100 languages with or without internet connection. Take a picture and read it back.
  • Computer Vision based real-time bar code scanner with ability to find and read a bar code in less than one second.
  • Recognize over 16 billion objects with machine learning.
  • Identify over 1,500 colors with machine learning. It gives the shades of colors by using the percentage of the colors.
  • Sense moods on faces to know if they are happy, sad, angry, etc.
  • Support Skype
  • Alexa support
  • Flash light

A man wearing Cyber Eyez smart glasses - from ABC news

Former soldier wearing Cyber Eyez

YouTube videos:

Cyber Eyez Review – Back And Better Than Ever! 
posted by The Blind Life, Published on Jun 22, 2018

Cyber Eyez at Work With Industries for the Blind Milwaukee 
posted by Cyber Timez, Published on Apr 12, 2018

Most users seem to find that smart glasses benefit them to be more independent in their daily activities. Unfortunately smart glasses are still priced high especially for the glasses with additional features (i.e. CyberEyez – above $2400 ).

More information about Cyber Eyez: click here.

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Apps, AT_Device, Elderly, Sensors, Technology in Education, Wearable Computing, Wearable devices | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Free Online Learning tools – Math

As you may have noticed, many students prefer to learn in digital learning environments today. Take for example, in learning math (mathematics), students may have difficulties to comprehend the relationship between a number and a graph on a piece of a paper. Calculators can be helpful for some students, but parents and teachers may still need more effective methods to help learners in solving math problems. Online tools and apps may be able to motivate students to tackle math problems and more closely match their learning style.  Here are some online examples that are available to use for free.

Geogebra  (URL: https://www.geogebra.org/graphing)

It is an online drawing and graphing tool. You can type in an equation, and the geogebra tool draws its graph on screen. You can export the graph and review it later. In addition, if you draw a shape or line within the virtual graph paper, Geogebra will convert it into an equation. The tool also has a built-in calculator.

Image: Geogebra screen
Geogebra screen

 WebMath (URL: http://www.webmath.com/)

Webmath is an online calculator and problem solver web site that answers to specific math questions and problems such as counting coins, calculating area, solving calculus equations. Webmath provides the answer, but also the tool gives you a step-by-step explanation of solving the problem.

Webmath

WebMath-Available Help

Wolfram Alpha  (URL: http://www.webmath.com/)

I have found the Wolfram Alpha online tool interesting. It covers variety of subjects in Mathematics, Science & Technology, Society & Culture, and Everyday Life.

You can use it from the Wolfram Alpha website or if you need to use the tool frequently, you can install the extension in your browser from Chrome Google store from this link:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/wolfram%20alpha%20official

Once you install it, you will see the extension in your chrome browser.

Wolfram Alpha extension

Example:

Statistics: http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/mathematics/statistics/

Electricity and Magnetism / Analyze an RLC circuit:
By using the following value, RLC circuit 8ohm, 12mH, 200mF, 120 Hz

It returned the results as follows.
RLC circuit calculation result

Result

More examples can be found at: http://www.wolframalpha.com/examples/

In addition, you can find other Math extensions from the Chrome Google store and use them in your Chrome browser.  One example is:

Cloudy Calculator  can provides an answer by not only entering questions with an equation format but also with a sentence.  You can find the extension at the following URL: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/cloudy%20calculator

For example, I typed the following questions and returned the answers.

population of DC =
693,972 (2017)

cube root of 109 =
4.776856181035016

Sample calculations

Today’s technology offers everyone the ability to solve problems that used to be difficult and often require the assistance of a STEM graduate. These online tools can replace the expense of a $100+ graphing calculator with the same or even superior capability and offer a step-by-step solution for many types of problems.

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EksoGT and eksoZeroG / eksoVest

According to Ekso Bionics, each year as many as 500,000 individuals experience a spinal cord injury and 15 million others suffer a stroke.  So when I saw a trailer of the Avengers with Iron Man, I thought it would be exciting if a wearable device could help persons with disabilities gain their mobility and independence.

Ekso Bionics is developing wearable devices to help the recovery process within a clinical setting. EksoGT  is a robotic wearable exoskeleton, which is an FDA approved product for individuals with hemiplegia due to stroke. Over 200 clinical centers worldwide use EKsoGT for their patients during their rehabilitation treatments. Ekso Bionics clinical studies indicate that their EksoGT gait training rehabilitation for stroke victims improves their functional mobility and may improve walking without the device.  In addition, Ekso Bionics developed eksoZeroG and eksoVest, which help productivity for construction workers and reduce their fatigue in the work environment.

EksoGT (Clinical Rehabilitation setting)

Patient Selection Examples for Rehabilitation using Medical EksoGT
(Taken from YouTube)

Additional patient stories (videos): https://eksobionics.com/eksohealth/patients/

eksoZeroG (Construction work settings)
Reduction in Fatigue for AWP or Scaffolding construction workers
(Taken from YouTube)

Additional workers stories (videos): https://eksobionics.com/eksoworks/customer-testimonials/

Product information about EksoGT: EksoGT

Product information about eksoZeroG: eksoZeroG

Product information about eksoVest:  eksoVest

 

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AVA – app for deaf or hard-of-hearing

Deaf or hard-of-hearing persons have challenges in communicating with others in their daily life. Especially in a group conversation settings such as meetings or social gatherings with friends and family, it is difficult for them to participate in conversations. If your closest friends, coworkers, and relatives are open to trying a solution for deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, an app called “AVA” will help to increase their involvement and encourage their interactions. Expanding and encouraging to create an environment to include deaf and hard-of-hearing persons in social, work, and school settings is essential.

Ava offers two plans. You can join Ava conversations for a free or a paid plan. The free plan allows 1 or more friends to use for up to 5 hours per month. The other plan is real-time captioning with 1 or more friends, with no monthly limit for $29.99/mo. Ava can understand and transcribe 12 spoken languages: English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Thai, Chinese, German, Italian, and Norwegian.

To use Ava, you need to install the app on your smartphone (i.e. iPhone/Android) and will need to create an account and allow access to your camera on your phone. You can use the app on one-on-one conversation on your phone or you can use it in a group setting. In a group setting, it is best to ask others to install on their smartphones. Within the app, use the option of sending “invite” from your contacts. Then a written text will be sent to the person with instructions of how to install AVA app. Or if you are in the same room and would like to speed up to add people, you can use the QR code button on top-right and share the QR code to each person. Next time you can just tap “green Connect” to include the person in the conversation.

Some users reported that the accuracy is not 100% and depends on how you use the app. For example, the distance of about a foot from the speaker is about 85-95% accuracy. The noise and the accent of the speaker and rapid speech may reduce this accuracy rate. Use of wired microphone may increase the accuracy. In addition, captions are normally displayed between 1-3 seconds after words are spoken; however, if you have a slow internet connection, you may experience a delay in captioning.

The following are a YouTube video of this app, AVA, and its installation/configuration instructions.

Ava 1.0 – How it works (YouTube posted by AVA)

How to install and configure on your smartphone: Instructions and configurations

Additional information: AVA Help link

Additional YouTube video (no Caption): YouTube (how to)

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