We hear a lot of complaints from clients about their clogged Email inboxes–especially from folks with cognitive disabilities, who may be unsure what’s reasonably safe or not to open, who may have unreliable spam filters, or who may simply be overwhelmed. Enter the Priority Inbox feature for GMail, which prioritizes your inbox based on “who emails you the most, who you reply to the most, keywords taken from the emails you open most often, and how a message is addressed.” Users can also “train” the feature by indicating when Priority Inbox made a miscall. Not a full solution, but a likely helper.
There are a couple of new products that could make water faucets more accommodating to people with various types of upper body impairments. The Smart Faucet is a lever you can add to your current faucet; water only flows when the lever is pressed, eliminating the need to twist knobs on and off. The Tapi is a rubber cup that turns the water flow into a drinking fountain when squeezed. If they require minimum activation pressure, they could work for a lot of people.
Sharp is trying out a restaurant app in Japan that would let individuals browse the menu and place their order by iPad. If implemented with even a soupcon of thoughtfulness, this could address a variety of access issues, from working with VoiceOver to provide an audio menu, to allowing non-literate people to find and select a picture of what they want, to providing a non-verbal ordering strategy for people with speech impairments. Tasty!
Some folks at the Ithaca College Tots on Bots project have the AoMS philosophy down pat: They’ve taken Wii Balance Boards and builds them into tiny robotic wheelchairs. When a very young child with physical disabilities sits in the chair and leans, the board senses their movement and steers the chair in the corresponding direction. Will this be expanded into wheelchair design for other ages, so that we’ll have Teens that Lean and Geezers on Wiizers?
Prompt-It is a hardware device that turns text from your smart phone into a teleprompter. Could be a lifesaver for people with any type of dexterity or memory difficulties who have to give a presentation in situations where using other types of notes is difficult or undesirable.
Most of us have wallets or keychains bursting with loyalty and membership cards for various stores, and it doesn’t even take having a disability to experience difficulty finding and retrieving them when needed. Enter the Numi Key, which stores all your card information electronically, then lets you retrieve as needed and wirelessly transmit to a POS device. The display looks pretty legible (can we beg for a voice-output option in a future release?), and the buttons could well be tactilely discernable.
We’ve written before about automated Twitter messages as a communication strategy, but most examples were either hacks or left little leeway for consciously choosing a desired message. Enter Buddy Radio, a simple device currently being tested with elders by the UK’s National Health Service. Turning the dial sends one of several messages indicating the user’s mood–not clear whether this is preprogrammed or personalizable. Apparently it works not only with Twitter, but also with Facebook, email, and so on. It’s currently being evaluated as a signaling system; off-site family, friends, and other message recipients would presumably be able to interpret when a user needs some type of intervention services. But we have cause to wish it were commercially available now so that people in hospice, recovering from serious injury, etc., would have a nearly effortless way to just provide brief but treasured messages to their circles.