Custom Bite Sensor Replaces Keyboard Expression Pedal

Sometimes, standard hardware won’t do when it comes to the differently abled. [Ben Krasnow] found himself recently working on a project for a musician who doesn’t have the use of his legs, and thus needed to create a new interface to replace a standard expression pedal.

[Ben] is a big fan of the build first method of working, and demonstrates why it works well. In this case, the first attempt involved a pneumatic design, where the user would bite down on an air bladder that actuated a remotely-located potentiometer via a tube and bellows. However, while this design worked, the tactile feedback was poor. This led to experimentation with mechanical designs, with an initial attempt involving a 3D printed mechanism and a rotary pot. This was better, but still had problems with damage from teeth and poor feel .The final design is essentially an analog button, built with fabric-impregnated silicone for wear resistance and using a linear pot for smooth feedback.

The final design is impressively tidy, and [Ben] notes that while it looks simple, it was only arrived at by trying plenty of worse solutions first. We’ve seen other work done in the gaming world too; recently, modular controllers have come into vogue to serve a wide variety of needs. Video after the break.

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Building Custom Game Controllers For People With Physical Disabilities


Hold on tight. This is going to be a long post. I kept my temper in the video, but here I can just come out and let you know that I’m livid. Every time I start thinking about this, I feel so angry and helpless that my face gets hot and my hands get shaky.  I’m getting ahead of myself though, so lets just back up a little bit and talk about a pretty cool kid named [Thomas].

[Thomas] has muscular dystrophy. This means he’s going to gradually lose strength and control in his muscles over time. He has already lost his ability to stand, and even holding buttons on a game-pad for extended times can be difficult. Gaming, as you can imagine, is very important to [Thomas] and people like him. It offers a release of frustration, like it does for all of us, but also a level playing ground. When he’s in the game, he’s like everyone else.

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