Sip-and-Puff Ipod dock highlights assistive technology

Check it out, a Sip-and-Puff Arduino shield. This is an assistive technology that allows the physically challenged to control things using a plastic air tube. Different combinations of sucking (Sip) or blowing (Puff) differentiate between control commands.

In this case the device is used to control an iPod dock, but [Bob Johnson's] Kickstarter project seeks to put the Sip-and-Puff functionality out there so that it can bridge the control gap no matter what the need. One example that he mentions in the video after the break is a Morse Code keyboard.

This shield uses a pressure sensor to receive input from the plastic tubing. But we’ve also seen it done using mechanical pressure switches. That technique is what was used in the Sip-and-Puff Kayak build.

18 thoughts on “Sip-and-Puff Ipod dock highlights assistive technology

  1. I’ll admit. I don’t do a great deal to keep up with assistive technologies… but how is this better than eye tracking that we see commercially far more often?

    1. I’d say price for one, and the eye tracking isn’t open source like this, so there’s many things you can’t do with it like you can with the sip and puff

    2. Sure, eye tracking is a potentially higher bandwidth, and more interactive, interface. It can be DIY’ed (see http://fffff.at/eyewriter/The-EyeWriter.pdf and other examples).

      But every physically challenged person is unique. They may find headgear uncomfortable, and not prefer to wear it at times when a simpler interface, like a puff sensor, is adequate for what they want to do. Or they may want to have both interfaces at their disposal simultaneously, and divide tasks between them.

      It’s all highly situational, and there is no such thing as too many assistive tech options.

    3. A lot of people do not like the fatigue/burden of eye tracking. It’s absolutely absurdly expensive and this device can be adapted to work with ANYTHING that is switch automated.

      Also, it’s not either or. This could be used in conjunction with eye tracking. Maybe this just triggers an adapted camera. SKIES THE LIMIT!

      Such a great project!

    4. You can’t drive a powerchair with a gaze tracker, at least not outdoors with a bunch of ambient IR light everywhere. Driving a powerchair is something that needs to work very reliably. Also, gaze trackers require calibration and take up a lot of space. For certain tasks they’re just not feasible and sip in puff is a much more appropriate solution.

  2. It also has other uses besides assistive technologies. There are times when a hands free trigger or switch could come in handy when eye tracking couldn’t be used.

  3. It seems quite nice to me, but you wouldn’t want to carry something like this around. I think it would be a better idea to control stuff by whistling. Everyone can whistle, can’t they?

  4. I wonder how they handle the saliva problem… I’m guessing that whole board will be covered in saliva after a whole day of puffing. I really like the idea though. Shows that these kind of interfaces don’t have to be expensive at all.

  5. Suck and blow! Oh how I loathe the mamby-pamby phrases, that are incorrect. One can not sip air, only liquids. I am all for assistive tech, as I am somewhat dyslexic. I can’t stand icons just give me plain text. This should be standard for ADA access.
    This is clearly a job for a microswitch or 2 and a diaphragm or bellows. Put a 15amp switch in it and suck and the vacuum comes on. Couldn’t get any easier. Make the bellows trip a toggle switch both ways and you have a bistable on off setup, no flip flop required. Come to think of it this rather familiar. I rebuild player pianos.

    1. Suck and blow, exactly. The title made me think this was a device to help with consuming alcohol and smoking “tobacco.”
      You sip a drink, you puff a cigarette and neither of those has anything to do with moving air through a tube for triggering things.

    2. Sip’n Puff is the industry term used to describe this type of assistive device. Although it isn’t 100% correct, it is a more elegant description. I’m sure a suck and blow Ipod dock would have recieved a bigger response from a different type crowd. :)

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