By Ryan Murphy
In high school, I constantly wrote papers using a semi-relevant famous quotation as an opening line. In college, I was told this practice was typically not appreciated by academics. And then I graduated, so now they can’t boss me around anymore.
Thomas Edison was one of the greatest American inventors. He is probably known most famously for inventing the practical electric light bulb. What you may not know is that it took Thomas Edison upwards of 10,000(!) attempts before he perfected the filament responsible for illumination. Most would say those were 10,000 failures, but Edison himself claimed, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I sought out this quotation as a reassurance that I, too, have not failed in the crafting of some of the assistive technology projects we’ve undertaken here at ADEC. Instead, through continued trial and error we have simply arrived at a different set of solutions in addressing the principal goals.
We’ll probably have to think of a new name for the KADE project as we sought to bring mobile computing access to a client using a wheelchair. Fortunately, this is the worst of our troubles as we’ve made some encouraging strides and encountered a pleasant surprise. This particular client now possesses an iPhone with all the available features we were looking to provide with a tablet plus the ability to make telephone calls. With this bit of news, we turned our attention to a device previously glossed over called the Tecla. The Tecla is a small box that connects through Bluetooth to any iOS device (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc) via allowing switch access or joystick control of the device. We were able to test the device through the Assistive Technology Loaning Library via Easter Seals Crossing for an entire month with encouraging enough results that we have placed a pre-order for the second version set for a July release.
This is what the Tecla can do:
Continuing with positive results, we have successfully pieced together a prototype for a lighting control unit to allow both manual and automatic control, as seen in the video below. We have purchased the components for a more practical version (a larger, illuminated push-button and concealed wiring) and are truly excited to show off the finished product.
Thanks to our summer intern, Savannah Smith, we added more formal documentation for our iPad project including goal projections and data collection. These efforts will further demonstrate just how powerful of a learning tool the iPad can be for the clients we serve.