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?
The Swing Pro Solo Auto concept basically does away with the steering wheel. Instead, you make the car turn simply by leaning in the direction you want to go. This has obvious benefits for upper-limb amputees and anyone who has difficulty with grasping or turning a wheel. We can also see elimination of the wheel as improving driving comfort for people who are obese or pregnant. Finally, for people with cognitive conditions such as left/right dyslexia, leaning is probably going to require less effort and allow faster reaction times than steering.
Holiday Inn will soon be installing special room locks that open when you play a coded song for them from your smartphone. Both the unlock tones and your room assignment will be sent to your phone automatically, so you can skip the front desk. The OpenWays system may help customers who have dexterity or visual difficulty using keycards, but it also makes the accessibility of smartphones that much more essential — as these mobile devices become ever more integral, being left out really means being left out.
Japanese drivers with left/right dyslexia have a new friend in NaviRobo, a small crab robot that syncs with the Pioneer GPS system and points its claws in the direction you’re supposed to go–a rather elegant non-verbal navigation strategy. The same idea modified into a handheld version could help deaf-blind pedestrians, too.
Here’s a cool hands-free wheelchair control setup, based off a Wii remote. It’s a high school science project for now, but has tremendous potential for being a low-cost commercial strategy that could significantly improve chair design.
Back when we were a small nerdette, GPS took the form of a game where you would say “Hot” or “Cold” to indicate a searcher’s proximity to a target object. This is close to the idea behind the Kompis, which lets you program target locations, either by downloading coordinates from the Internet or by pressing a “remember” button when you’re actually at the location. Then the Kompis uses a blue light to indicate the direction of the location, and turns the light red as you get closer. This simple, wordless strategy could make it a good cuing tool for navigation by people with cognitive disabilities.
It’s sometimes hard enough to recognize your luggage on the airport carousel if you’re sighted, never mind if you’re blind. The Talking Luggage Locator helps almost anyone by snapping onto a suitcase handle and then playing back a 30-second user-recorded message at the press of a remote button. For the benefit of Deaf travelers, activation also triggers three blinking lights. Very promising–until everyone gets one and we end up with a Control Tower of Babel.