Tap (one-handed keyboard)

Tap is an alternative one-handed wearable keyboard, which allows you to control your smartphone and other Bluetooth devices by tapping your fingers on any surface including your own body. You may find this alternative one-handed keyboard suitable for individuals with low vision or limited mobility. Tap supports Apple’s VoiceOver capabilities so that VoiceOver users may find this useful when they need to text, navigate, and control their mobile phones and computers. OS Compatibility: IOS 9+, ANDROID 5+, OS X YOSEMITE+, WINDOWS 8.1+, LINUX UBUNTU.

Learning to Tap with TapGenius Learning System
(YouTube video – published by Tap 2018)

Tap can also be used with iOS’ built in Switch Control so that users with limited mobility can navigate and control apps easier by mapping any switch control to any simple finger tap. You can customized and personalize any input, hotkey and combination of keys into single finger taps.

Using Switch Control to Navigate your iPhone or iPad with the Tap Strap
(YouTube video – published by Tap 2019)

Additionally, by using Web-based utility called TapMapper allows you to create custom layouts to play games and Garageband (music creation studio for macOS and iOS devices).

TapMapping for Garage Band (YouTube video -Published by Tap 2018)

According to the company, you can lean the Tap Alphabet™ in one to two hours by using their training game. It may be difficult for users who have tremor or learning disabilities. However, some individual may find Tap as an alternative keyboard allowing them access tablets or phone in a more comfortable way (i.e. any position such as laying on a bed or a wheelchair without holding a keyboard).
The price of Tap costs $199 which is more than most other keyboards on the market. Hopefully the price will be more affordable in the future for anyone who needs this special one-handed keyboard.

Posted in Accessibility Features, Assistive Technology, AT_Device, Blind, Employment, Games, Mobility, Technology in Education, Transition, Wearable Computing, Wearable devices, Windows | Leave a comment

Smart Home devices/Hubs with Amazon Alexa or Google Home

Home Automation allows you to program and schedule events for the devices in your home. By using a home automation hub or smart devices, you can control lights, appliances, security, monitor and control energy usage, etc. When I posted a blog about Insteon and SmartThings smart home options in 2015, I was hoping that technology companies would develop devices or systems with voice command to control devices that would benefit everyone, especially persons with limited mobility.

Amazon Alexa and Google Home have become popular and offer smart home products on the market. Voice command features on Alexa Echo and Google Home have expanded the smart home environment. Today many companies are trying to develop products to integrate their products with Amazon Alexa and/or Google Home.

You may already have a home automation hub or are considering to purchase a hub or smart devices that work with Alexa or Google Home. If so, you may find the following articles helpful.

Everything that works with Amazon Echo and Alexa: https://www.reviewed.com/smarthome/features/everything-that-works-with-amazon-echo-alexa#hubs


Samsung SmartThings and Alexa Working Together
posted by Automate Your Life 2018 (YouTube video)

The best Google Home-compatible smart home devices: https://www.techhive.com/article/3259826/best-smart-home-devices-for-google-home.html


Google Home Hub Setup & Home View Walkthrough
posted by Tech With Brett 2018 (YouTube video)


How to use Amazon Alexa and Google Home together at home


Ultimate Home Automation System with Google Home & Alexa. Smart Home Tour Setup Ideas Devices
posted by Rick Buck 2018 (YouTube video)

It looks like some devices have limitation to integrate with Alexa or Google Home. Especially front door lock may not be integrated because of security reasons. It is recommended that you make sure to check the compatibility. Local hardware stores have started carrying some smart home products so we will be seeing more smart devices and expanded features near future.

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Closed Captioning / Transcription Tool

Videos are entertaining and very effective in helping visual learners if they have difficulty understanding in a traditional learning environment. In addition, many students can engage in active learning by using videos, which makes learning more fun and interactive.  

However, video/Audio without captions are difficult for the deaf or hard of hearing persons to understand. Adding captions to video contents helps creators to deliver the message better to many audiences.

It is not easy to create transcriptions, however, if you want to help deaf or hard of hearing persons and include them in learning and social environments, it is recommended that you use a closed captioning (transcription) tool or service to provide text when you use videos or audio materials. Here are a few of examples you may want to try. Some software provide transcription only (speech to text) and others offer additional features (i.e. sync text to a video).

Temi (Transcription tool)
https://www.temi.com/

One transcript trial is free. Then 10 cents per min. No subscriptions. No minimum.
Turn around: Transcripts back in minutes /shorter files delivered faster.

Voice Typing in Google Docs
https://www.smore.com/91m4v-voice-typing-in-google-docs

This is a Voice Typing (Speech to text) tool and it will not sync to your video, but it allows you to create your own transcription.

Amara (Closed captioning – online)
https://amara.org/en/


Amara Subtitles Online Subtitle tool
Published on Oct 10, 2014

Aegisubs (Download required)
http://www.aegisub.org/


UscreenPublished on Feb 28, 2018 (AEGISUB How to add Subtitles using AFQISUB)

Free.  Download the software.

You can create and modifying subtitles on your computer.
More flexible to place the captions in the video.
a built-in real-time video preview.

Youtube – Add your own subtitles and closed captions
https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734796?hl=en

Free

VisualSubSync (Download required)
https://sourceforge.net/projects/visualsubsync/

Free
Create and place a caption with a certain timestamp position.

Jubler Subtitle Editor (Download required)
http://www.jubler.org/

Free
Offer OS version for Mac

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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