Sometimes you start a project with every intention of using it in a specific way, or maybe your plan is to have a very well-defined set of features. Often, though, our projects go in a completely different direction than we might have intended. That seems to be the case with [Dave] and his Pips. These tiny devices were originally intended to be used by people with disabilities, but it turns out that they’re a perfect platform for this “Internet of Things” thing that we’ve been hearing so much about.
Built around the Bright Blue Bean microcontroller platform to take advantage of its low energy requirements, the Pips were originally intended to be placed around the house where they would light up to remind the user to perform some task. Once the button was pushed, the next Pip in the sequence would activate. While they are quite useful for people with cognitive or sensory impairments, they can also be used in a similar way to the Amazon Dash button or any other simple internet-enabled device. Especially when used in conjunction with a home automation setup, this device could be used in novel ways, such as automating your morning routine without having to add a weight sensor to your bed.
We are also pleased to see that all of the project files are available on GitHub for anyone looking to try this out. Its interesting when something that was originally intended to help out anyone with a disability finds a use somewhere else that it might not have originally been intended for. After all, though, the principle of using things in novel ways is kind of the entire basis of this community.
There is a lot of helpful technology for people with mobility issues. Even something that can help people do something most of us wouldn’t think twice about, like turn on a lamp or control a computer, can make a world of difference to someone who can’t move around as easily. Luckily, [Matt] has been working on using webcams and depth cameras to allow someone to do just that.
[Matt] found that using webcams instead of depth cameras (like the Kinect) tends to be less obtrusive but are limited in their ability to distinguish individual users and, of course, don’t have the same 3D capability. With either technology, though, the software implementation is similar. The camera can detect head motion and control software accordingly by emulating keystrokes. The depth cameras are a little more user-friendly, though, and allow users to move in whichever way feels comfortable for them.
This isn’t the first time something like a Kinect has been used to track motion, but for [Matt] and his work at Beaumont College it has been an important area of ongoing research. It’s especially helpful since the campus has many things on network switches (like lamps) so this software can be used to help people interact much more easily with the physical world. This project could be very useful to anyone curious about tracking motion, even if they’re not using it for mobility reasons. Continue reading “Head Gesture Tracking Helps Limited Mobility Students”
After a request from one of his friends, [Mastro Gippo] managed to put together a talking multimeter to be used by blind persons working in electronics. He wanted a feature-rich meter that had serial output, and recalling this Hackaday article from a few years back led him to find a DT-4000ZC on eBay, which has serial output on a 3.5mm jack. (Though, he actually recommends this knockoff version which comes with excellent documentation).
It turns out there aren’t many talking meter options available other than this expensive one and a couple of discontinued alternatives. [Mastro Gippo] needed to start from scratch with the voice synthesizer, which proved to be as easy as recording a bunch of numbers and packing them onto an SD card to be read by an Arduino running the SimpleSDAudio library.
He found a small, battery-powered external speaker used for rocking out with music on cell phones and hooked it up to the build, stuffing all the electronics into an aluminum case. Stick around after the jump for a quick video of the finished product!
Continue reading “Say Watt? A Talking Multimeter?”
[Jan] works with both physically and mentally disabled individuals, some of whom cannot read, making many of their tasks more difficult. Although [Jan] is not in a position to teach reading or writing skills, he was able to build an add-on device for the scales used in repackaging sweets to provide simple feedback that the user can interpret.
The device has three LEDs—red, green, and yellow—to indicate the package does not weigh enough (red), weighs too much (yellow), or lies within an acceptable range (green). The industrial scales at [Jan’s] workplace each have a serial output to connect to a printer, which he used to send data to the device. An ATMega8 controls the lights and an attached LCD, with the usual trimpot to change the display’s contrast and a rotary encoder to adjust the device’s settings. Everything fits snugly into a custom-made frosted acrylic enclosure, laser-cut at a local hackerspace.
[Jan] provides a rigorous guide to approaching each step on his Instructables page, along with source code and several pictures. See a video overview below, then enjoy another scale hack: building one from scratch.
Continue reading “Hacking Digital Scales for the Disabled”
The slim page turn buttons on a Kindle may serve as an elegant, out-of-the-way design for a generation raised with and saturated by technology. For older folks and the disabled, however, those buttons can be a pain. [XenonJohn] fired up his 3D printer to find a solution, building this Kindle page turner. The Kindle slides in from the top while two flappy paddles offer a larger, unmissable target to replace the usual thin page-turn buttons. [XenonJohn] designed the levers to function with only a light touch, and included “bump stops” underneath the levers to absorb excess force from any harsh, accidental smacks.
Construction is simple and straightforward: print pieces, clean pieces, put pieces together. The levers attach via 3D printed hinges, which [XenonJohn] glued to keep in place. The relevant 3D files are available at the link above, and stick around after the break for a quick video of the paddles flipping some pages. [XenonJohn] is no stranger to Hackaday; take a look at his Google Glass alternative, “Beady-i.” Also check out the Frankenkindle, one of the inspirations for [XenonJohn’s] project which required a much more invasive process for getting at the page turning buttons.
Continue reading “3D printed Kindle page turner”
[Chris Young] has a physical disability that means he can’t use a mouse very well. He typically uses Dragon Naturally Speaking for moving his mouse using voice commands but has found that it lacks some features he needs and can crash at times.
His solution to this problem was to create a device that will translate IR signals from a simple remote into mouse actions and movements. He is using an Arduino micro for this task, and as you can see in the video it seems to have worked out well for him. He has code and schematics available on his site if you would like to recreate this yourself.
[Chris] has actually built several accessibility devices for himself and others. You should check out his blog for more, including his thoughts on the cost of commercial accessibility equipment vs DIY. If you think you would like to try making a device to help someone with a physical disability access a computer, hop on over to thecontrollerproject.com and join up on the forums.
Why not that is, if you have a prosthetic arm. Although it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen this before, [Trevor Prideaux], according to [The Telegraph’s] article, “has become the world’s first ever patient to have a smartphone docking system built into his prosthetic arm.”
[Trevor] was born without a forearm, and, as he puts it, he’s used to adapting to things. However, he thought others might be struggling with the same problem, especially those that become disabled later in life. Once their help was secured, Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre got to work on his new limb and produced a prototype in five weeks!
[Trevor] is quite pleased with his new phone docking system. Texting especially is much easier and safer, and the phone can be removed when needed for making calls. We love to see hacks like this where people enhance their abilities using technology! For another hack helping those with disabilities, check out this wheelchair elevator/winch made for a non-accessible apartment.