ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION CHALLENGE
We are excited to announce our latest Innovation Challenge! For this challenge, we have partnered with an incredibly talented group of professionals at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton, New Brunswick. One way in which this centre helps their patients is to develop and create unique technologies that aim to solve a problem in a particular patient’s life.
We have worked with Josh Keys, a Rehabilitation Engineer at the centre, to develop a list of possible devices that could be invented, developed and created by students in kindergarten through grade 12. Many of you have access to unique technologies like littleBits, 3D printers, micro controllers and wearable tech that will allow you to prototype these solutions very easily.
In the video below, Josh gives you a behind-the-scenes tour of his workshop, and what it is like to create one of these assistive devices.
The Stan Cassidy Centre came up with the following assistive devices that they are in need of immediately. Think about it, if you create one of the devices on the list below, you may be on your way to starting a business!
Wheel Chair Motivation
Idea: I bet if I asked you to go up and down the hall 20 times you’d be pretty bored pretty fast. Well, the same can be said when a therapist asks someone in a powered wheelchair to do the same. Although it might seem like there is no reason for them to ask someone to do this, it’s actually pretty common, and boring. If the therapist can’t get them to do this, then they can’t figure out how to properly set up their chair.
What to Make: The important question is: How can we make driving up and down the hall more fun? Well, we think that a mat, or sensors or something that makes a cool sound when you drive by it might do the trick. If a therapist can put the mat or sensors down at the end of a hallway and have the kid drive until they hear the sounds, it will be a lot more fun for everyone.
Bonus: Find a way to make it even more fun. Lights, sounds, anything you like.
Clamp On Selfie Stick for Chairs
Idea: Selfies are extremely popular and you probably can’t spend a day at school without seeing someone, somewhere, taking a selfie. While holding your arm up and snapping that flattering picture might be easy for you, it can be very difficult for others without the strength or movement to do the same.
What to Make: Design a way for someone in a wheel chair, with reduced movement, to take a selfie. The camera/phone will need to be placed on a stick and then rotated or extended just like you would with your arm to take a nice selfie. Don’t forget that they’re going to need a way to actually take the picture once their lips are puckered up and their eyes wide open.
Bonus: Get extra techy and find a way for the arm to automatically extend and take the picture itself once the camera/phone has been put in place and at optimal selfie distance.
Robotic Hand Raising Device
Idea: We’ve all heard it a hundred times. “Raise your hand if you want to talk!”. Well, this might be easy for you (physically at least), but it might be hard or impossible for others. If you couldn’t talk or raise your hands, it might be pretty hard to get the teacher’s attention when you really need it.
What to Make: Find a way to get the teacher’s attention with only the press of a button all while making it so cool that everyone wants to use it (and your teacher doesn’t hate it).
Bonus: Maybe it could even be wireless where the teacher has a nice notification board at the front of the class.
Idea: Look all around the room. Pretty easy I bet? Well for some of our kids, even keeping their head up can be pretty tough so a lot of times that is exactly what their therapist wants them to do, keep their head up. However, if it is tiring and boring, chances are they aren’t going to want to do it for very long.
What to Make: Music can be pretty motivating for everyone. That’s why you might hear the tunes blaring out of your friends headphones while they’re trying to finish that last 500 meters on their track and field run. Well the same applies to our kids who are trying to keep their head up. We want them to listen to some great music while their heads are up, but then have it turn off when they let their head go down (we can be pretty mean). Maybe the device you make will just stop the music going to their headphones if their head drop down, or maybe you have another idea. Just remember that not everyone may keep their heads in the same spot every time so your device might need to have a way to tell it what is “up” and what is “down”
Bonus: Imagine how annoying it would be if your volume control was just on or off. Luckily it isn’t and it can be adjusted from all the way off to all the way on. Find a way to have the head being up to full volume, but get quieter as the head drops down until the music is all the way off.
Idea: Buttons are everywhere. On your keyboard, on your TV remote and probably most any electronic device you own. They’re pretty easy for you to push, but there are still lots of people who can’t push the buttons on their own and still want to watch TV or play with their favorite toy.
What to Make: We need your finger, or something like it, to push buttons for those who can’t. It will need to be small and easily clamp on to any type of remote or device with a button. When the person in need wants the button to be pushed, they will press their own button that has been placed nice and close to them and is really easy to do. We will provide the button for them to push, you just provide a headphone jack for us to plug the button into.
Idea: You drop your pencil, you pick it up. You drop your book, you pick it up. You drop your… well, you get it. What happens though if you don’t have the strength or movement to bend over and pick up something you dropped? This is a problem for a lot of people who are in a wheelchair and do not have good movement or control of their arms.
What to Make: A robot! Well, something that can help people pick up things that they’ve dropped. It’s up to you to come up with how they are going to do it. Just remember that whoever is going to use this is in a chair and has very little movement. They also will be in a power wheelchair where they can fine tune the position of their picker upper device.
Bonus: Full automation. Can the device sweep the floor by itself and pick anything up within its reach?
Can you hear me?
“What are you up to?”
…..A typical phone conversation. You say something, the person on the other line replies (unless you’re getting the silent treatment). Well, there are many people who can’t talk and instead use devices called “Voice Output Communication Aids”, or VOCA for short. This is essentially a big word for a device that talks for you. Years ago, the only VOCAs around were big clunky things that cost thousands of dollars. Today, you can just download a VOCA app from iDevice iTunes store. The apps have lots of pictures on them that you press to speak for you which work great if you run into someone at the mall and need to talk. The problem is, what if someone calls you on your iPhone that you use to speak for you? iPhones do a good job at cancelling out any noise that they make so the person you are talking to does not hear it.
What to Make: This should bypass the noise cancelling that the phone does. It is best if the device plugs right into the iPhone’s headphone jack so it does not pick up any other noise around.
Bonus: Lots of ways to adjust the amount of delay or even volume so we can get just the perfect amount of delay and added volume if needed
Idea: You type, swipe, pinch and click all with your fingers and thumb. But for a lot of people, they rely on a stylus to get the accuracy they need as their hands may be too crippled or difficult to move. Holding on to that stylus and having it point in the right direction can also be equally as difficult as most styluses require a lot of finesse and strength to hold.
What to Make: It’s time to come up with a universal stylus. That is a stylus that can fit onto any hand and point in any direction. One possible solution is a ball with a stylus poking out of it. This way, the ball could be gripped with the stylus pointing in any direction desired. Before you go thinking this is as easy as one, two, print, try rubbing a piece of plastic on your phone and see if it responds to it.
Bonus: Provide a way to strap the ball to the hand in any position
Voice Controlled Universal Remote
Idea: What happens when you lose the remote to your TV? Chances are you aren’t getting off the couch every time you need to change the channel or volume. Most likely you’ve bought a universal remote to replace it and it had no problem learning how to control things. Well, pressing the buttons on these remote can be tricky for some and life would be a whole lot easier if they could just bark commands at their remote and have it control their TV.
What to Make: It’s time to create a voice controlled universal remote. Or maybe even just a device that listens to voice commands and presses buttons on an existing universal remote for you. You decide what you can do.
Idea: “It’s rude to point”. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Well sometimes, it isn’t and we actually need to point at something to let someone know what we are looking at. It’s pretty common for some people who are unable to talk or point to use a stick that is strapped to their head or hat to point at things. Other times, they may also have a stylus strapped in the same fashion to their head so they can control a phone or tablet with the same movements. The problem is, most of these devices are bulky and ugly.
What to Make: Now is your chance to release your creative and aesthetic skills all at once. You will need to find a way to make a head pointer that can work as a stylus (trickier than you might think) that is stylish and the envy of all your friends. Think sleek and minimal.
Idea: There are two types of people in this world: Those that love lasers, and those that are lying. Well laser pointers, aside from making your cat go crazy, are very useful for some people who can’t talk or point to what they want. Instead, why not let the laser do the pointing for them? The problem is, how can we easily mount a laser pointer to someone’s head, without impairing their vision?
What to Make: We need a simple, sleek and elegant way for a laser pointer to be mounted on someone’s head. We need the laser to turn on and off when that person presses a switch down by their hand. We will provide the switch, you provide a headphone jack for us to plug the switch into such that when the switch is pressed, the laser turns on and when it is released, the laser turns off.
Go-Go Gadget Arm!
Idea: Imagine a world where everything you wanted was just out of reach. For some people in a wheelchair, that’s not too hard to imagine at all. When something is up high, how can they reach it?
What to Make: What we need is a go-go gadget arm. We want a way for someone in a wheelchair to extend an arm out and be able to angle it up or down and grab stuff that they can then bring back to themselves. See what you can come up with.
Bonus: A version that runs off a joystick so no strength at all is required to use it.
Wow! That is quite a list of ideas to get you started. If you and a team of fellow inventors / innovators would like to take on the challenge of creating one of the devices above, or a device completely of your own design, we would love to help. Our team at Brilliant Labs will support with you with any technology needs that you may have throughout your project. In addition to this, Josh Keys is willing to devote his expertise as an engineer to help support you on your journey to develop a final, working model.
We cannot wait to see what your team comes up with. If you are interested, please fill out the form, using the link below.
Let’s make something brilliant to help the world.