Friday, June 5, 2015

Competition Pits Tech Developers Against Disability Challenges


Paul Kotler and his mother, Melinda. (Credit: Ian Bush)
Paul Kotler and his mother, Melinda. (Credit: Ian Bush)
By KYW tech editor Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There are just a few weeks of tinkering to go for some Philadelphia-area developers competing in a worldwide $100,000 challenge. Their goal is to come up with technology to empower people with disabilities.
Think of Paul Kotler as Steve Jobs when it comes to this contest: he’s the idea man.
“We need an app that senses our anxiety and provides calming feedback,” Kotler says. “Typing faster helps a lot. And being able to arrange it to help with some simple tasks as a learning tool.”
The 26-year-old from Downingtown has autism, and uses an iPad with text-to-speech software to help him communicate. But it’s not enough. It can’t keep up with him. Updates in apps and operating systems make for confusing changes. And it certainly can’t convey his passion for advocating for others with the neurodevelopmental disorder.
The app and hardware developers taking part in the Connect Ability Challenge look to him, as well as to three other exemplars — Jason DaSilva, a Brooklyn filmmaker with multiple sclerosis; Xian Horn, a Manhattan teacher, speaker, and writer with cerebral palsy; and Gus Chalkias, an assistive technology specialist and career counselor from Queens who is blind — to guide them toward solutions to the stumbling blocks they encounter.
AT&T and New York University’s Ability Lab are partnering on the three-month competition, which offers a $25,000 grand prize for the designer of a new app, wearable, or other technology judged best at improving the lives of people with disabilities. Some of the ideas for Paul include using stenographic theory in an app to help him translate his thoughts to text and speech more quickly, and a biosensor that could predict and prevent anxiety attacks.
“Communication is central to everything in life, to feeling part of a community, to working, to learning, to feeding strong relationships, and to independence,” Kotler says. “I want to do this because I understand how it is to feel trapped inside — wanting out, but with no way to express it. I want to get the word out that people with autism have a place and deserve to be understood and heard.”
“I’m very proud,” says Paul’s mom, Melinda. “He went through a lot to get where he is today, and he does feel that he needs to provide that same opportunity to other people in his situation, and unfortunately there are many others in his situation.”
Melinda is co-founder and executive director of TALK Institute and School in Newtown Square, which serves students with speech and language disorders. The organization is hosting an open house on June 3.
“Individuals with severe speech and language disorders and children with autism are often assumed to be cognitively impaired, but that’s an unfair judgment,” she explains. “They are intelligent. And it’s very important that children or any individual with autism be given the opportunity to have a system that allows them to communicate at their true level of communication.”
Competitors have been working since early April on their designs. The winners will be announced on July 26 — the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Building better assistive technology with open hardware

Posted 27 May 2015 by 

For many people, technology assists and augments our lives, making certain tasks easier, communicating across long distances possible, and giving us the opportunity to be more informed about the world around us. However, for many people with disabilities, technology is not an accessory but essential to living an independent and quality life.

Assistive technology such as Augmented/Assisted Communication (AAC), Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text (TTS/STT), magnifiers, screen readers, and eye gaze systems enable people with disabilities to accomplish what others take for granted on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the majority of assistive technology devices are unsettlingly expensive, and they age rapidly, with little in the way of customer-serviceable parts.

Why closed assistive technology is a problem

Closed assistive technology hardware creates new problems while trying to solve others. Although accessible and providing much-needed augmentation and accommodation to the user, the devices available are limited and can be prohibitively expensive. Magnifiers can be priced as high as $2,000 and up, and AAC devices start out in the hundreds for extremely basic functions, costing up to thousands for a devices that speaks what you have typed. Eye gaze systems (setups that allow users to move the mouse pointer using their heads or eyes) can start at $5,000 and quickly rise to more than $10,000. There is an obvious trend of prices of such systems rising in proportion to the severity of the person's disability: The more a person needs the device, the more it costs.
Even if one is able to obtain the device needed, keeping up with updates, maintenance, and making repairs if something happens to the device is difficult. Finding repair manuals, teardowns, guides, and so on for such hardware isn't easy, and if the operating system is embedded in the hardware, it's even more problematic.
I obtained a proprietary AT device in 2011 from a silent auction at a conference. When the device was new (early 2000s), it retailed for more than $5,000. The device is an AAC "tablet" with a touchscreen, an abundance of ports (for example, firewire, USB, and audio ports), a large speaker for communication purposes, two CompactFlash card readers, a rechargeable 7.8-volt battery, and a kickstand. It's heavy, a bit cumbersome, and locked down. My attempts at unlocking the device and installing Linux on it have, so far, been unsuccessful.

The device I was able to purchase a few years ago: rubberized coating on the outside frame, a simple power button and LED indicator, and touchscreen.

Device with cover off: touchscreen in foreground

Touchscreen disconnected and moved to the side
In this image, there is no SSD or traditional hard drive; the only removable storage is via the CompactFlash card. The large metal box inside the frame on the left is the battery storage compartment.

Motherboard (I believe) removed from frame and turned over
In this image, note the eight ports and what might be infrared communication LEDs on the left side.

Case with both motherboard and input board removed
As the images show, although the device can be opened and torn down, there's not a lot that can be serviced—no replaceable hard drive, no sockets to upgrade memory, no way to unlock the device and install a different OS. Once this device was no longer able to keep up with modern-day specifications, it was destined for the junk heap. A lifespan of 10 years for any device may seem generous—especially by today's standards—but for something that is absolutely needed just to communicate with others, it's frustratingly short and inadequate.

Open hardware as an assistive technology option

Examined through the lens of accessibility, open hardware brings a lot of advantages, such as letting people with disabilities use readily available hardware that others use regardless of ability. Open hardware's basic tenets in openness and usability allow for the creation of more customized, personalized assistive technology devices that fit a user's needs. Open hardware allows for features to be added or removed as an individuals' needs change with age and ability, extending the life of their device. The availability of parts, detailed guides, and tutorials on various single-board computers (SBCs) and components, ease of repair, and affordability are all profound qualities that are not only wanted, but needed in AT. Also, since open hardware is not locked behind proprietary controls and patents, there's no requirement to use insurance or obtain medical permission to alter, modify, or change the state of what is truly owned by the person—in this case, their own assistive technology device.
There are some great projects and real-life examples of how to implement accessibility using open hardware that you can find across the web. For example, Dheera Venkatraman created Sesame using an app he created and an Arduino Uno, a bluetooth module, and a servo.
Brett Martin (aka pcmofo on put together an excellent guide a few years ago describing how to build an RFID door lock system using an Arduino chip, an RFID reader, and an electric door lock.
Another intriguing project is the Eyewriter, which started as a way to enable the graffiti artist Tempt1, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, to not only communicate but to continue to create art. Through a cheap pair of sunglasses, a PS3 camera, infrared LEDs, copper wire, and over two weeks worth of development, an eye gaze system was born.


Through the use of open hardware, an open community of makers, and the inclusion of people with disabilities, we can build assistive technology that will augment and improve the future for users with a range of abilities. 

Great advances being made in assistive technology


As one researcher notes, “I think we’re in the middle of a revolution in technology for people with impairments”

Pizza delivery apps. Fitness trackers. Dashboard GPS. Often, technology makes life easier for people whose lives are already very easy.
But what about next-generation wheelchairs or 3D-printed prosthetics?
In the field of assistive technology, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are also making life easier for people with disabilities, chipping away at truly big problems at steady pace. Their successes are likely to accelerate.
“I think we’re in the middle of a revolution in technology for people with impairments,” says David Reinkensmeyer, a biorobotics researcher at the University of California, Irvine.
“This field, from when I started 15 years ago until now, has really seen an attraction of younger people wanting to get involved,” says Alex Mihailidis, a University of Toronto professor who holds a chair in rehabilitation technology.
“People are seeing this as a challenging and exciting application.”
Yet these researchers are often confronted with hurdles that designers of mainstream tech — whether silly or genuinely useful — are not: regulatory barriers, marketplace fragmentation, and even our own unconscious biases.
Growing up in Alberta, Gary Kurek was a high school science-fair phenom, ranking provincially, nationally and internationally. In his senior year, after watching his grandmother struggle with the effects of cancer, he set out to build a better wheelchair.
His novel design piqued the interest of Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, who chose Kurek for a prestigious $100,000 Thiel Fellowship for entrepreneurs under 20. Among other mobility devices, Kurek built a wheelchair that could climb stairs.
But he eventually dropped the project, in large part due to regulatory struggles.
“We got really bogged down . . . It was going to take a ton of money and a ton of time,” he says. The market for his product wasn’t big enough to justify the investment. Though he would like to come back to mobility products, Kurek is now working on automated manufacturing.
Because many assistive technologies fall under the banner of medical devices, they must be approved by oversight bodies such as Health Canada or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Those in the field acknowledge that safety is paramount, but say the process can sometimes stifle innovation: it is lengthy, costly, and “still quite prohibitive to a lot of startups,” says Mihailidis. “That’s one of the big next hurdles we need to tackle as a field.”
Compounding that problem, the market for assistive technologies is highly fragmented, even though it is large and growing rapidly with the aging populations of most developed countries.
“For sure there’s a big, big need ... but the market is pretty heterogeneous, in the sense that there are a vast numbers of impairments that cause disabilities to arise,” says Melanie Baljko, a York University professor who specializes in assistive technology.
“Everyone experiences their impairment differently.”
Even reaching those consumers is a challenge. Many people who need these products don’t buy them directly: insurance companies, caregivers and clinicians all act as mediators.
At the same time, other technological advances have begun to carve new pathways forward. The advent of 3D printers, Baljko and Mihailidis both note, has fuelled a thriving DIY culture where designs for items like modified light switches and spoons are shared openly online, circumventing the need for a traditional marketplace and allowing for low-cost customization.
“This is really putting the power of technology development into the hands of people who know best,” Baljko says.
Other general advances have spurred assistive tech too: the price of sensors is dropping, and machine-learning algorithms are only getting smarter. Smartphones and tablets have created a platform for the proliferation of interactive games that help people with challenges.
Shifting social attitudes have also helped. “It’s becoming increasingly socially acceptable to have technology on your body — Apple Watch for example,” says Reinkensmeyer. “We’re all just using technology to enhance our abilities.”
But attitude is the most invisible barrier for assistive tech, he adds. “You know what holds us back? The attitude the people can’t: ‘You can’t have a spinal cord injury and play basketball, or ski . . . ’ How long did that societal attitude hold back the development of technologies?” he asks. “We don’t even know what our assumptions are.”
For Kate Allen, writing about assistive technologies hits home
Here is a typical email from my Dad, who has Parkinson’s disease:
“Kate I hope that your gum problem has lessened and then you I know a virtuous Flossie — try this again — and that you are a virtuous Flossie to Flossie newsflash to the Flossie Turley — what I’m trying to say is if you have seen the error of your ways and now floss your teeth regularly — my God!, It said what I wanted to thank you for his time to say goodbye.”
In case you couldn’t tell, he’s trying to urge me to floss better (I’m 30, for the record). But the voice-recognition software he uses — designed to circumvent his shaky hands — clearly had other ideas.
My English-professor father sent the garbled email for hilarity’s sake, as he often does. I forwarded to my brother for laughs and forgot about it. But a few weeks later when I was aflutter over a new app that offers on-demand lunch delivery, I stopped and thought: this is ridiculous. Why are so many people trying to make it easier for me to buy a sandwich, when it was already really, really easy for me to buy a sandwich? How many people are trying to “disrupt” the crappy technology available to my Dad, who actually needs it?
In the course of trying to answer that question, I stumbled across a fascinating new study led by scientists at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The research team, led by University of Toronto speech-language pathology professor Yana Yunusova, is testing whether using video games to visualize speech therapy exercises will be more effective at helping Parkinson’s patients improve their characteristically slurred speech. Users repeat tongue-twisters with electromagnetic sensors in their mouths, and the better they do, the more fire a virtual dragon spits out, burning down a stand of trees.
My Dad was game. We showed up the TRI on a Tuesday morning, and the team carefully wired him up. “Super Sue sat sewing,” he said over and over again.
He found the process frustrating — “They have a strange idea of what a game is, I must say,” he wrote me later — but recognized the importance of what the scientists were trying to accomplish, and will return to be a full participant in the trial.
As I discovered, it’s just a lot harder to bring assistive technology to market than it is to build an Uber for sandwiches or an app that only says “Yo.” But it’s not for lack of a community of people who care deeply, and who are working extraordinarily hard.

Four Novel Assistive Technologies

Engineered by researchers in the Bloorview Research Institute at Toronto’s Holland Bloorview rehabilitation hospital and backed by Grand Challenges Canada, AT-Knee’s designers spent years studying how to make it as biomechanically efficient as possible, with a novel locking mechanism that mimics the stability of real knees.
While the trend in prosthetics has been toward high-tech robotics and motorization, LegWorks’ chief technology officer Jan Andrysek notes that the bulk of lower-limb amputees live in countries and communities where such expensive technology is out of reach.
“We came up with very simple concept that provided the function that we need,” said Andrysek. After rounds of clinical testing in Chile, Tanzania, Burma, Canada, and elsewhere, LegWorks is aiming for widespread adoption: “we’re trying to be everywhere.”
Swizzle Shave
A team of University of Toronto engineering undergraduates designed this razor to accommodate the jerky movements of Huntington’s disease patients. It is a finalist in the 2015 Innovative Designs for Accessibility, a competition for Ontario university students. Michelle Samfira, a co-creator, called the team’s work “really rewarding.”
Music Glove
The sensor-filled glove is designed to by worn by stroke patients and played with a game that works a lot like Guitar Hero. The system coaxes stroke survivors to use the kind of hand movements that will help them regain dexterity. It was created by Nizan Friedman, a former graduate student in the lab of University of California, Irvine’s David Reinkensmeyer.
Professor Goldie Nejat, who directs the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics Laboratory at U of T’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, designed Brian, a socially assistive robot. Using machine learning, Brian can talk and joke, and is designed to help cognitively impaired seniors accomplish tasks like finishing meals or taking medication on time.
Toronto Star

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wheelchair Lift Technology Doesn't Require Attendant


Tue, 06/02/2015 - 9:28am
University of Illinois
A Chicago-based startup with a team of University of Illinois alumni has developed a technology, which will make it much easier and cost-effective for wheelchair users to get up and down stairs in their home without needing an attendant. Now that startup, EscaWheel Inc., is using a Kickstarter campaign to commercialize that technology with a goal of raising $25,000 in 30 days.
“We recognized the need for a product that could take wheelchairs up and down the stairs without the help of an attendant and at an affordable cost,” said EscaWheel CEO and co-founder Anando Naqui. “The cost is not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or most private insurance.”

The two most popular existing technologies are the stair lift, which transports a person up stairs via track on an attached chair, and a platform lift, which allows the user to roll onto the platform and takes both the wheelchair and the person up the stairs. Both methods have their drawbacks.
The stair lift is designed primarily for those who can walk, but have trouble getting up the stairs. For those in a wheelchair, it means having a wheelchair on each floor and most times an attendant to help transfer the person from the lift to the wheelchair. That technology installed typically runs between $5,000-$7,000 installed. The platform technology, meanwhile, typically costs upwards from $20,000 installed, and most houses don’t have staircases wide enough to accommodate them.
EscaWheel is in the process of patenting a forklift technology. Rather than picking up the wheelchair at the base of the wheels like a platform does, it lifts the wheelchair up from under the seat. This designs minimizes the footprint of the device with forks that can fold up when not in use. The goal is to mass-produce the final product for around the cost of the chairlift.
Naqui notes that with most bedrooms on the second floor of a modern home, making it possible for parents to get upstairs to tuck in their children or read them a story at night is a strong emotional benefit. While developing the technology he spent a few days in a wheelchair to try to understand the issues wheelchair users face. He noted several commonly overlooked challenges such as slippery floors that can’t get traction or thresholds or bumps with one step up or down.
“For a person in a wheelchair, one step might as well be 100,” he said. “If someone has become disabled from an injury say in a car accident, it’s unfair to force someone out of their home just because it’s multi-story.”
The idea started in the fall of 2011 as part of a senior design project by mechanical science and engineering students Naqui, Jake How and Chis Delaney. In 2012, the team claimed first prize in the Innoventor Trophy competition, which recognizes startups that can have potential to make a societal impact and have a viable business model. A finalist for the Cozad New Venture Competition, EscaWheel, won two in-kind prizes -- space at EnterpriseWorks, the University of Illinois’ tech incubator, and services of Singleton Law Firm to help patent the technology.
Over the next two years, the trio set off on different paths, hoping to further pursue refining and commercialization during their spare time. How completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford, while Delaney and Naqui entered the workforce. Recognizing that the business wasn’t advancing in the way and speed, they had hoped for, Naqui, quit his full-time consulting job last fall to focus on EscaWheel full-time. He refined the business model, worked on pitches, engaged investors and prepared for the Kickstarter campaign.
EscaWheel used seed funding from the senior design project to build the first prototype and prove the technology.
They plan to use funds from Kickstarter to build a second prototype that is refined, aesthetically pleasing and more conducive to residential use. The prototype will have advanced safety systems, smarter electronic controls and a swiveling mechanism to rotate the wheelchair 90 degrees and allow for it to roll off straight ahead at the top of the stairs.
The goal is to have the second prototype completed by the end of the summer and start field-testing it in early fall, rekindling the relationship they have made with the award-winning wheelchair basketball program on the U of I campus.
“As a person that has used a wheelchair for 25 years and as a person that has had both a stair lift and elevator modes of accessibility in multi-floor residences, I am excited to see the EscaWheel project move forward,” said Michael Frogley, former U of I coach and now director of wheelchair basketball Canada. “It opens up the possibility of independence and accessibility in a way that could not be considered in the past. It has tremendous potential to improve the quality of the lives of people with disabilities by providing a safe, efficient and affordable option to multi-level dwellings.”

Wearables fight back as Apple Watch raises bar

Tech News


CROWDED FIELD: A visitor looking at smartwatches designed by Taiwan's Oaxis during the Computex trade show in Taipei. The Apple Watch raised the bar for wearable technology when it launched in April, but smaller brands are seeking their own niche in the battle for wrist space. – AFP
CROWDED FIELD: A visitor looking at smartwatches designed by Taiwan's Oaxis during the Computex trade show in Taipei. The Apple Watch raised the bar for wearable technology when it launched in April, but smaller brands are seeking their own niche in the battle for wrist space. – AFP
TAIPEI: The Apple Watch raised the bar for wearable technology when it launched in April, but smaller brands are seeking their own niche in the battle for wrist space. 
New kids on the block at Taiwan’s Computex tech fair insisted that style and simplicity were more important than myriad features, in the face of Apple’s intimidating offering. 
Apple’s iPhone-compatible smart watch enables wearers to answer calls, check emails and access apps without taking their phones out of their pockets. 
It also tracks fitness, plays music, offers customisable watch faces and comes in different colours and styles. 
“Within consumer technology, smart watches are the biggest new category since tablets,” said Daniel Matte, US-based analyst for research firm Canalys. 
“The Apple Watch has very much defined the category and set the benchmark for other vendors to follow.” 
Canalys has forecast 20 million Apple Watch shipments for 2015. 
“Vendors other than Apple are improving their designs to be more fashionable and of higher quality, but the Apple Watch still has a significant design advantage,” said Matte.
MORE WATCH OFFERINGS: Journalists taking photos of smartwatches made by Taiwan's ASUSTeK Computer during the Computex trade show in Taipei. – AFP

A host of smart watches are on the market from major players including Samsung, Sony, LG and Motorola, with Taiwan’s Asus launching its new ZenWatch 2 Android Wear watch at Computex. 
But lesser-known names are also taking their cue from Apple and attempting to forge their own direction. 
“The Apple Watch is free advertising for less famous brands like us, because it makes more people interested in smart watches,” said Christophe Arathoon of US-based watch-brand Omate, which launched its first smart watch in 2013, crowdfunded by Kickstarter. 
Its watches are fashion-focused, says Arathoon, with the latest “Racer” a rugged sporty model in black, white, grey and red. 
It links to iOS and Android phones, with wearers able to choose which notifications they receive. It also includes a music player and pedometer. 
“Apple Watches are a good thing but they are too complicated,” said Arathoon. 
“We have simplified our watches and made them fashionable and affordable.” 
The Racer costs US$149 (RM547), less than half the price of the cheapest Apple Watch model. 

‘Zero features’ 
Taiwanese smart watch “Noodoe” also trades off its simplicity – with its founder boasting it has “zero features”. 
The simple black band is billed as the “opposite of Apple Watch” but promises to help wearers channel their self-expression as they can copy their own hand-drawn images onto its monochrome watch face via a camera app. 
Due to launch later this year for less than US$100 (RM367), it links to smartphones for notifications but has no fitness tracker. 
“Most wearables of the last two years are more and more feature-centric,“ said founder John Wang, a former HTC executive. 
“What we are trying to do is to recognise that wristwear has always been about self-expression. 
“In a way, Noodoe is much closer to Swatch than to most of the wearables on the market today.” 
Other wearables on show at Computex ranged from mind-reading headsets to rings that might save your life.
MIND MELD: A man wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) brain-computer interface headset designed by US tech company Neurosky during the Computex trade show in Taipei. – AFP

Silicon Valley’s Neurosky headsets – which use EEG sensors to read brain activity – are already on the market and will be used in new Star Wars game The Force Trainer II, released in September, in which wearers can imagine and control a hologram. 
A less obtrusive wearable from Taiwan, the Keydex NFC Ring – a ceramic ring which stores data – introduced its new “SOS” model, which stores the wearer’s medical information and can be accessed in an emergency with the tap of a smart phone. 
And homegrown firm ChipSip showed the latest version of its smart glasses, which are being used in art galleries in Taiwan and Europe. 
Wearers look at a painting and, through image recognition, explanatory text will appear in the glass. 
The glasses can also be hooked up to headphones so wearers can watch and listen to movies and videos. – AFP

MSI & Tobii join forces to create eye-tracking gaming laptop

MSI's latest concept laptop will incorporate Tobii's Eye-X eye tracking technology without the need for a separate peripheral
MSI Tobii laptop
MSI and eye-tracking company Tobii have announced a partnership to create eye-tracking-enabled gaming laptops which will incorporate the same Eye-X technology we saw in the Steelseries Sentry directly into the notebook's chassis. MSI will be showcasing the concept GT72 laptop at Computex this week, saying it's just the first product in a long line of expected joint ventures over the coming months.
“This concept notebook is only the beginning of our extensive partnership with Tobii - a partnership that will expand beyond hardware products and into the development of eye-tracking content and games,” said Eric Kuo, vice president of MSI. “First-hand, we’ve seen the way eye-tracking creates a richer and more immersive experience and we fully believe it will have a profound impact on the future of gaming.”
The 17.3in GT72 laptop will have an Nvidia GeForce GTX980M GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM as well as built-in Nvidia G-Sync technology. Tobii's eye-tracker, meanwhile, will run along the bottom edge of the screen.
MSI Tobii Laptop keyboard and eye tracker
As we saw with the Steelseries Sentry, which is a separate eye-tracking peripheral that connects to your PC via USB3, Tobii's Eye-X technology is compatible with games such as Assassin's Creed Rogue to control the camera, creating what Tobii calls an "infinite screen", and indie game Son of Nor to provide multi-dimensional movement. It's also compatible with theHunter: Primal and Starcraft II. While its in-game implementation could use a little work, it's a particularly useful tool for streamers, as it can be used to add an overlay to your screen that records where you look throughout a match of Dota II, for example, allowing you to compare your playstyle to other professional players. Tobii hopes that integrating its Eye-X tech directly into MSI's gaming laptops will help prompt other game developers, suppliers and OEMs to get on board with supporting the eye-tracking scene, and it's aiming to launch even more eye-tracking enabled gaming machines in the future.
“Our partnership with MSI, following the announcements of the SteelSeries Sentry, Assassin’s Creed Rogue and theHunter: Primal, shows the power of eye-tracking and the strong trajectory it has in gaming,” said Oscar Werner, president of Tobii Tech. “The adoption of eye-tracking in the consumer market is still in its early stages and we are investing in technology, partnerships and the software ecosystem to reach our long-term goal of taking eye-tracking into mainstream computers. This partnership solidifies this trend.”
Tobii and MSI will be bringing the laptop to the UK in the next few months, so we'll be sure to bring you our hands on impressions as soon as we can.

How you can turn your apple iphone and iPad into capable assistive technology

Via Tech Radar

Once triggered, swipe right or left anywhere on screen to maneuver the selector, that will signal Voice-over to see the choice aloud. Should you arrived at an market that you’d like to click further into, tap the screen two times.
-iOS products overall offer robust support for subtitles and closed captioning. Situated within the Ease of access menu, “Subtitles and Captioning” enables customers to activate and personalize the way the protecting text will appear. The feature supports 50 plus different font styles, four font dimensions varying from promising small to huge and eight font colors to select from.

-Once triggered, an online button the same shape as a square seems on the watch’s screen. Getting together with an easy tap blossoms the button right into a full-fledged menu where one can fly through configurations and dive into features which are usually multiple layers of navigation deep, like Siri and Safari.

Siri, the intelligent personal assistant

-Within the Ease of access menu, customers can pair a Bluetooth-enabled assistive hearing device for their iOS device with the “Assistive Hearing Devices” option. Once connected, all audio (music, podcasts, movies) will stream towards the hearing apparatus much like how streaming audio works together with wireless earphones.
-Apple incorporated a swath of various languages and regional dialects just in case you need to change Siri’s spoken language. In the same menu in which you enabled “Hey Siri”, scroll lower just a little to obtain the language configurations.
-To activate Siri, press and contain the home button with an iOS device for any couple of seconds. When you hear the double-chime, Siri’s prepared to assist.
Assitive Touch
Invert colors
-Activating the Voice-over feature also triggers seem effects which will trigger to own user audible feedback on their own gestures and touches. These may be switched removed from exactly the same menu.


-AssistiveTouch condenses every gesture-triggered feature into one virtual button placed in the forefront on screen for simple access. To activate this selection, scroll to the foot of the Ease of access menu and click on through to obtain the toggle switch.
-Within the Ease of access menu, choose “Bigger Text” to allow the feature, then personalize your chosen font size to enhance readability while using the an iOS device. In the event that does not have the desired effect, the font may also be bolded by flipping the switch alongside “Bold Text”.
-Customers may change how big the magnification window itself and also the lighting filter which you’ll view text and photographs through (Grayscale, Low light, Grayscale Inverted, Inverted.)
Here is a full introduction to the built-in features that provide clever methods for individuals with hearing, vision and physical problems to savor the apple iphone and iPad.
-If hearing your phone if this rings is definitely an problem, the Brought on the rear of apple iphones (versions 4 and more recent) could be triggered to expensive whenever you have a text or call. It is a subtle alert, but very noticeable. Activate this selection by toggling the switch alongside “Brought Expensive for Alerts”.
-For people which are responsive to certain colors, the choices to improve color contrast, invert or set the screen’s color scheme to grayscale are each easily available within the Ease of access options.


-Customers may change the audio balance from right to left to be able to get the full audio delivery within the ear that serves the finest. The slider is situated within the Ease of access menu.
Think you realize everything about present day technology? It is time for any reality check. Mine only agreed to be a couple of years back. It did not involve getting trained around the internals of computer systems or understanding the variations between os’s. No, all it required was the humbling experience with seeing you aren’t an image impairment navigate an iPad, a tool which i naively assumed could only be utilised by individuals having the ability to see.
-Double-tapping the screen with three fingers brings in the Zoom window, which zooms in on the body of text or photo.
You’re ready to discard that magnifier. Your iOS device consists of a built-in feature that does greater than take its place. It provides a lot of extra functionality the physical tool cannot match up with.
iOS features for hearing impaired individuals below
-After that, you are able to drag your window round the screen while you please by pressing and holding a finger around the Zoom anchor at the base from the magnified window.
-Saying “Hey Siri” may also grab Siri’s attention. To allow this selection, open the Configurations menu. After that, navigate to “General”, then make use of “Siri” and lastly, choose “Allow ‘Hey Siri'”.

Features to improve screen readability

-To activate it, press and contain the home button to obtain Siri’s attention after which say “Switch on Voice-over.” Alternatively, scroll lower with the Configurations menu before you find “Ease of access”. Click “Voice-over” and slide the switch to switch on the feature.

iOS is filled with awesome features that may be utilized with gestures like swiping and pinching the screen. And fortunately, Apple has additionally made these unique functions readily available for individuals with physical disabilities.

Much like Siri, VoiceOver’s spoken language or regional dialect could be transformed. However, additionally to Siri’s more limited configurations, customers can download greater-quality voices that seem more realistic when utilizing Voice-over.

How iOS products assist hearing-impaired people

-And in the Ease of access menu, customers can make custom gestures for his or her iOS device. These may be used to perform a number of tasks, for example unleashing the unit or typing a fast text. If you are a gamer, you can even program gestures to manage a game’s menu effortlessly.
iOS products provide a couple of features to create words more legible and photographs simpler to determine on screen.

She could make use of this technology because of ease of access options, which enable some awesome methods to assist individuals short of funds. Your iOS device packs some incredibly wise features which help people of almost all conditions enjoy the fun of a number of present day best tech – you simply haven’t found them yet.

How iOS products assist physically-impaired people

Siri personalization does not hold on there. You may also change its voice from female to male or the other way around. Continue, request it something!

The intelligent personal assistant within iOS products includes a simple goal: that will help you find your articles easily, send messages and uncover new information using simply your voice. Siri is really a well-known feature, however it does not get enough credit because of its potential being an aid for individuals with physical and vision problems.

Voice-over is paramount feature which makes using iOS products more intuitive for vision-impaired people. This selection switches the default navigation that formerly depended on precise finger presses in support of one where broad strokes and gestures can complete nearly any task.
-Zoom is placed in a default zoom level, however the intensity could be elevated as much as 15 occasions the default font size. You can do this at the end from the Zoom menu.

-The Zoom feature enables you to definitely magnify a portion of the screen to improve readability. To activate the feature, navigate to “Ease of access” within the Configurations menu. Then, make use of “Zoom” and tap the switch.

iOS provides a couple of neat options within the Ease of access menu to help customers with hearing problems.

iOS products also support using exterior switches instead of while using touch screen to do functions. The support for switches varies from exterior physical buttons to cameras that may track mind movement to navigate round the phone or tablet.

-Voice-over may also help with reading through notices, for example incoming e-mails, texts, aloud because they arrive in your iOS device.