Hackaday Prize 2023: An Anti-Tremor Handle, With No Electronics

Many of us will have seen the various active assistive devices which have appeared over the last few years to help people with a hand tremor. Probably the best known was a fork with a set of servos and an accelerometer, that kept the end of the utensil steady despite the owner’s hand movements. It’s a field which has the potential to help many people, but it’s undeniable that such technology comes with a cost.

What if the same effect could be achieved passively, without all those electronics? It’s something [Jacob] is investigating with his mechanical anti-tremor cup handle. It’s a university project completed as part of his studies so it’s very much a work-in-progress which if we’re being fair isn’t quite there yet, but we think the potential in this idea of bringing a useful assistive device at least bears further attention.

The write-up is available as a Norwegian PDF file so takes a little bit of Google Translate cut and pasting for an Anglophone. Sadly due to what must be report format requirements set by the university it’s long on procedure and shorter on engineering calculations than we’d like, but there’s an attempt to calculate the properties of the helical springs in each of the joints to match the likely forces. Our intuition is that the design as shown would require significantly more mass on the end of it than that of the mug and beverage alone to achieve some form of stability, but despite that as we said it’s an interesting enough idea that it deserves more thought.

Hand tremor assistive devices have appeared more than once on these pages before, here’s one for soldering that enlists the aid of a camera gimbal.

Hackaday Prize 2023: Low Cost Braille Embosser From 3D Printer Parts

The limited availability of texts transcribed to Braille and the required embossing equipment is a challenge world wide, but especially in poorer countries. To alleviate this problem, a team makers from in Cameroon have been developing BrailleRAP, an open source Braille embosser.

BrailleRAP is built built using commonly available 3D printer components, printed parts, and a laser-cut acrylic or wood frame. Paper is fed between a pair of carriages, the bottom one punching dots with a solenoid while the other acts as the anvil. Sheets of paper are fed in one or two at a time with stepper controlled rollers to control the position. At a cost of about $250, it is about a tenth of the price of the cheapest commercial solution, and the team have created excellent documentation so anyone can build it.

BrailleRAP was inspired by BRAIGO, another Hackaday-featured embosser assembled LEGO Mindstorm parts. We also featured another simple, but ingenious handheld embosser for portable use.

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Hackaday Prize 2023: The Assistive Tech Challenge Starts Now

We’d all love to change the world and make it a better place, but let’s be honest…that’s a pretty tall order. Even the best of ideas, implemented perfectly, can only do so much globally. But that doesn’t mean the individual can’t make a difference — you just need to think on a different scale. If improving everyone’s life is a bit out of reach, why not settle for a smaller group? Or perhaps even just one person?

That’s precisely what we’re looking for in the Assistive Tech Challenge of the 2023 Hackaday Prize. In this Challenge, we’re asking the community to come up with ideas to help those with disabilities live fuller and more comfortable lives.

Whether you help develop an improved prosthesis that could benefit thousands, or design a bespoke communication device that gives a voice to just a single individual, it’s hard to imagine a more noble way to put your skills and knowledge to use.

Looking to lend a hand? You’ve got from now until May 30th to enter your Assistive Tech project. It doesn’t matter what kind of impairment it focuses on — so long as it helps somebody work, learn, or play, it’s fair game to us.

The ten finalists for this Challenge will be announced around June 12th, but you’ll have to wait until Hackaday Supercon in November to find out which projects take home their share of the more than $100,000 in cash prizes graciously provided by sponsors Digi-Key and SupplyFrame.

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The Coolest Controller Mod, Hands Down

Video games are a great way to relax, and sometimes get your heart rate up at the same time. But unless you’re playing something like Dance Dance Revolution, the controls pretty much always require the use of both hands. Even the old Atari controller benefited from using the other hand for support.

But what if you don’t have the use of both hands? Or you have a repetitive stress injury? Or you just want to eat cheese curls with chopsticks while you play? [Akaki Kuumeri] has you covered with one of the hands-down greatest uses for 3D printing we’ve seen — a PlayStation DualShock 4 controller modified for one-handed use. If this looks familiar, it may be because [Akaki] made a PS5 controller version a while back, but who can get one of those, anyway?

Though [Akaki] does most of the demonstrating in the video below with their left hand, they were cool enough to make a right-handed version as well. In the left-handed version, the symbol buttons and right trigger are actuated with the left hand, and the right joystick is used by moving the whole controller against your leg, the table, the arm of the couch, or whatever you wish.

[Akaki] even designed some optional pieces, including a leg strap. The right-hand version of course does the D-pad instead. But what should the order of the arrow buttons be? After much contemplation, [Akaki] settled on the standard DDR configuration of ←↓↑→.

We love that the symbols are made from raw filament pressed into grooves, and think it’s totally awesome that this is made to be attached to the controller and removed with one hand. Check out the video below to see it in action with a handful of games.

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Gesture Controller For Roku And Universal Keyboard Built By UCPLA Dream Team

The coolest part of this year’s Hackaday Prize is teaming up with four nonprofit groups that outlined real-world challenges to tackle as part of the prize. To go along with this, the Dream Team challenge set out a two-month design and build program with small teams whose members each received a $6,000 stipend to work full time on a specific build.

The work of the Dream Team project is in, and today we’re taking a look at United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles (UCPLA) project which not only designed and built a universal remote for those affected with this condition, but also went to great lengths to make sure that “universal” was built into the software and user experience just as much as it was built into the hardware itself. Join us after the break for a closer look a the project, and to see the team’s presentation video.

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This Tabletop Lighthouse Will Get Your Attention

If you wear headphones around the house with any regularity, you’re probably missing out on a lot of audio cues like knocks at the door, people calling your name, or maybe even the smoke alarm. What if you had a visual indicator of sound that was smart enough to point it out for you?

That is the point of [Jake Ammons’] attention-getting lighthouse, designed and built in two weeks’ time for Architectural Robotics class. It detects ambient noise and responds to it by focusing light in the direction of the sound and changing the color of the light to a significant shade to indicate different events. Up inside the lighthouse is a Teensy 4.0 to read in the sound and spin a motor in response.

[Jake]’s original directive was to make something sound-reactive, and then to turn it into an assistive device. In the future [Jake] would like to add more microphones to do sound localization. We love how sleek and professional this looks — just goes to show you what the right t-shirt stretched over 3D prints can do. Check out the demo after the break.

Seaside lighthouses once used gas lights giant Fresnel lenses, but now they use LEDs. A company in Florida is using CNC machines to crank out acrylic Fresnels.

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Give Me A Minute, My Eyes Are Busy

Social cues are tricky, but humans are very good at detecting where someone is looking; that goes a long way toward figuring out where someone is placing their attention. All of this goes right out the window though, when you’re talking with somebody who uses eye-tracking software to speak. [Matthew Oppenheim] with Lancaster University, UK wants to give listeners the message of Give Me a Minute with an easy-to-recognize indicator. His choice is a microBit, which displays a rotating arrow on the LED array while someone composes their speech. He chose the microBit because they are readily available, and you can get cases to fit people’s personalities. After the break, you can see a demonstration, but the graphic appears scrambled because of the screen flicker. The rotating arrow is a clear indicator that someone is writing, whereas a clock might suggest a frozen computer, and a progress bar could not be accurate.

[Matthew] wrote a program for the interpreting computer which recognizes when a message is forming by monitoring the number of black pixels in the composition field. If it changes, someone must be composing a sentence. Many people will try to peek over the speaker’s shoulder and see if they are working, but we’re sure that most readers would join the users of such tech in being unhappy if someone blatantly looks at theirr computer screen while they are typing.

Wheelchairs don’t always have to come from a hospital or supply store, and they don’t have to stay on the ground.

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