A dock for the Apple iPad will allow users to sweep and swipe in mid-air, as far away as a foot from the iPad. No word yet on what gestures will be included, but they will let you control regular apps. We may also see special apps written for the dock; maybe someone will be smart/kind enough to write apps for people with dexterity limitations, cognitive disabilities, etc. — this is a perfect gadget for adding even more accessibility to the already-stellar iPad. Not having to hold the iPad will make it easier for dexterity impaired users, and with a camera-equipped iPad, it may facilitate sign language video. (Not that the combo would recognize ASL — having the iPad in a dock, controllable from a certain distance would make it easier for someone standing back and signing.)
The Hand-e-holder attaches to your iPad and then wraps around your hand so you can hold the iPad one-handed and grip-free. Potentially useful for people who find the iPad difficult to hold and operate. But shouldn’t it be called the Hand-i-holder?
MIT has come up with a prototype for an invisible mouse. You cup and move your hand as you would with a standard mouse, but instead of a physical piece of plastic, there’s a camera and light source that track your movement. To click, just press on the table. Potentially useful for people who have difficulty with grasping.
SensoGlove knows from good golf grips, and tells you when yours is off. It’s got both video and output to help you adjust your finger positions. Something like this might be helpful for people who need dexterity retraining as a result of, say, a stroke, or need permanent assistance due to neuralgia or similar conditions.
Bödysöf is a new shower gadget that removes the need for squeezing bottles of bath gel. Instead, it lets you pull a lever to dispense gel into the stream of your shower. Looks pretty friendly for people with arthritis and other dexterity impairments. Available in chrome for $140 or plastic for $80; umlauts sold separately.
The Smart Finger prototype is essentially a gesture-based system for measuring short distances. Put the paired devices on two of your fingers, and they’ll give you a readout indicating the measurement in either metric or U.S. units. Has the potential to be a good strategy for people with dexterity disabilities; could be helpful to people with visual or cognitive disabilities if what seems to be a large-print display were also high-contrast, and if there were an audio output option as well.
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.