Posts with «assistive technology» label

Communicate using your ear with Orecchio

When conversing face-to-face, there are a wide range of other emotions and inflections conveyed by our facial and body expressions. But what if you can’t express emotion this way, whether due to a physical impairment, or simply because of a covering—like a dust mask—temporarily hides your beautiful smile, and perhaps your hands are otherwise occupied?

As a solution to this dilemma, a team of researchers has been working on Orecchio, a robotic device that attaches to the ear and bends it to convey emotion. Three motors allow the ear to be bent in 22 distinct poses and movements, indicating 16 emotional states. Control is accomplished via an Arduino Due, linked up with a windows computer running a C# program. 

The prototype was implemented using off-the-shelf electronic components, miniature motors, and custom-made robotic arms. The device has a micro gear motor mounted on the bottom of a 3D-printed ear hook loop clip. The motor drives a plastic arm against the side of the helix, able to bend it towards the center of the ear. Rotating the plastic arm back to its rest position allows the helix to restore to its original form. Near the top of the earpiece is another motor that drives a one-joint robotic arm that is attached to the top of the helix, using a round ear clip. Rotating the motor extends the robotic arm from its resting position, to bend the top helix downwards the center of the ear. The motor together with the one-joint robotic arm is mounted on a linear track that can be moved vertically through a rack-and-pinion mechanism, driven by a third motor. Moving the rack upwards stretches the helix.

The prototype is demonstrated in the video below, and more info is available in the project’s research paper.

DualPanto is a non-visual gaming interface for the blind

While there are tools that allow the visually impaired to interact with computers, conveying spacial relationships, such as those needed for gaming, is certainly a challenge. To address this, researchers have come up with DualPanto.

As the name implies, the system uses two pantographs for location IO, and on the end of each is a handle that rotates to indicate direction. One pantograph acts as an output to indicate where the object is located, while the other acts as a player’s input interface. One device is positioned above the other, so the relative position of each in a plane can be gleaned. 

The game’s software runs on a MacBook Pro, and an Arduino Due is used to interface the physical hardware with this setup. 

DualPanto is a haptic device that enables blind users to track moving objects while acting in a virtual world.

The device features two handles. Users interact with DualPanto by actively moving the ‘me’ handle with one hand and passively holding on to the ‘it’ handle with the other. DualPanto applications generally use the me handle to represent the user’s avatar in the virtual world and the it handle to represent some other moving entity, such as the opponent in a soccer game.

Be sure to check it out in the video below, or read the full research paper here.

Ariadne Headband is a wearable device for haptic navigation

In a new take on haptic navigation, makers Vojtech Pavlovsky and Tomas Kosicek have come up with a novel feedback system called the “Ariadne Headband.”

This device—envisioned for use by people with visual impairments, as well as those that simply want to get around without looking down at a phone while walking or biking—uses four vibrating motors arranged in a circle around the wearer’s head to indicate travel direction.

An Arduino Nano provides computing power for the setup, along with a compass module and a Bluetooth link to communicate with a companion smartphone app. The Ariadne Headband is currently a prototype, but this type of interface could one day be miniaturized to the point that it could be placed in a hat, helmet, or other everyday headgear.

Project Ariadne Headband is made out of two parts: headband and control app. The common usage flow is following. First, you open Ariadne Headband Android app. Using this app you connect via Bluetooth to your Headband. Next, the app will ask for you current GPS location. Then you open Google Maps integrated into our app and select your destination (place where you want to go).

Our Android app will compute the geographical azimuth from your current location and chosen destination. When you are ready you start navigating by pressing a button that sends computed azimuth to the Headband you put on your head.

Headband consists of Arduino Nano board, GY-271 compass module, HC-06 Bluetooth module (we selected this module only for local availability and will switch to BLE soon) and 4 vibration motors. Compass module allows us to know current azimuth, that is where is the user looking. All components are placed into a small box on back of your head. Our aim in the future will be to make this as small as possible so you will not even feel it. It is also possible to place everything into a hat or helmet for example instead of rubber headband. We are using rubber headband because it is very easy to manipulate.

Vibration motors around your head are placed in set directions so they can signalize where you should head. Your heading is computed by taking your current azimuth and the azimuth sent from android app (that is where you are currently going and where you should go, respectively).

Robust wheelchair model with treads!

Most people accept that a wheelchair is, in fact, a chair with wheels. This, however, didn’t stop recent Galileo Galilei Technical Institute graduate Davide Segalerba from turning this concept on its head and producing a “wheelchair” scale model driven instead by a pair of treads. 

This concept was inspired by Segalerba’s experience using a wheelchair himself while recovering from multiple surgeries, observing that our environment isn’t always conducive to wheeled transportation.

An Arduino board controls the device, and user input is via a joystick, or from a smartphone app over Bluetooth. You can read more about the projector on Wired Italia or translated to English here.

Sip and puff Morse code entry with Arduino

Those that need a text entry method other than a traditional keyboard and mouse often use a method where a character is selected, then input using a sip or puff of air from the user’s mouth. Naturally this is less than ideal, and one alternative interface shown here is to instead use sip/puff air currents to indicate the dots and dashes of Morse code.

The system—which can be seen in action in the video below—uses a modified film container, along with a pair of infrared emitters and detectors to sense air movement. The device was prototyped on an Arduino Mega, and its creators hope to eventually use a Leonardo for direct computer input. 

A tube connected to a custom made bipolar pressure switch drives an Arduino which translates puffing and sucking into Morse code and then into text.

Puffs make repeating short pulses (dots) and sucks repeating longer pulses (dashes) just like ham radio amateurs do with a dual-lever paddle.

Code for this open source project can be found on GitHub.

Notable Board Books are an Arduino-powered way to enjoy music

Annelle Rigsby found that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, is delighted to hear familiar songs. While Annelle can’t always be there to help her enjoy music, she and her husband Mike came up with what they call the Notable Board Book that automatically plays tunes.

The book itself is well laid-out, with song text and familiar photos printed on the pages. Electronics for the book are in a prototype state using an Arduino Uno and an Adafruit Sound Board to store and replay the audio bits.

Page detection is handled by an array of photocells, and it is meant to turn on automatically when picked up via a series of tilt switches. When a switch is triggered, a relay can then hold the book on until the song that is playing is done, or for a predetermined amount of time.

14 Year Old Builds Communication Device for Brain-Injured Friend

Try not to get anything in your eye as you hear this moving story of a teen helping an injured friend communicate with the world again.

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The post 14 Year Old Builds Communication Device for Brain-Injured Friend appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

High Schooler Makes Devices for Visually Impaired Using Arduino and Servos

Sreyash's simple concepts could be very helpful to those with vision impairments.

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The post High Schooler Makes Devices for Visually Impaired Using Arduino and Servos appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

LipSync is an Arduino-based assistive device for smartphone use

With a mouth-operated joystick and “sip and puff” controls, the LipSync aims to make smartphones more accessible for everyone.

For the huge number of people that use them, smartphones have certainly made their lives easier. Unfortunately, these amazing gadgets are difficult to use for those with limited or nonexistent use of their arms and hands. The LipSync attempts to address this issue with a device that can be made in just over a weekend’s worth of work. It uses an Arduino Micro along with a Bluetooth module for communication, and allows someone to interface with the phone using its tiny joystick, as well as the user’s controlled breath.

Smartphones and other similar mobile devices have become a staple piece of technology in this day and age. For people in wheelchairs whom experience difficulties with gross or fine upper body motor control, the usage of mobile devices can be very challenging. The LipSync is an assistive technology device which is being developed to allow quadriplegics the ability to use touchscreen mobile devices by manipulation a mouth-operated joystick with integrated sip and puff controls.

You can find more information on this project, including the files needed to build one, on its Hackaday.io page.

Arduino Mod Lets Disabled Musicians Play Guitar


From ITP student Justin Lange:

I grew up with my Dad’s songs. Some of my first memories are of him and my Mom singing to me and my siblings. A bad fall last winter left my Dad with a dislocated shoulder and detached nerves. His function in his left arm remains very limited. And he sure can’t play guitar.

I thought,’how about I just build something to allow him to get back to his songs?’ Something of a Luddite at heart, he was a little slow warming up to the idea of an electronic device interfacing between him and an acoustic instrument. Furthermore, he was understandably a bit pessimistic; he said, “Justin, that sounds like a great idea if you’ve got a ten-million dollar research budget behind you, but I just don’t think what you’re talking about is possible”. I said, “let me see what I can do”.

Justin’s device, dubbed the Folkbox, has rows of buttons mounted beneath the neck of the guitar that play chords when depressed. The buttons are hooked up to solenoids that depress the proper strings, allowing the user to play a multitude of different chords.

The interface can be easily rebuilt to allow musicians with other disabilities to play as well. For example, someone who has no use of one hand can have a foot pedal array to play chords.


Justin plans on continuing work with the Folkbox, adding an even larger array of chords it can play, and rebuilding the enclosures in acrylic.