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High school students laser-enable the disabled

Nilay Patel
04.21.07
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The students on the Palo Alto High School InvenTeam arrived at the Stanford Cool Products Expo this year with a new system designed to allow quadriplegics to operate all kinds of gadgets and appliances. The user shakes his head to activate a glasses-mounted laser, which he can then point at sensors embedded in an array of custom triggers placed around the home. So far the team's nailed the basic on/off circuit needed for lights, fans, and a pet food dispenser (which is currently shelling out M&M's to Expo attendees), but the real noise is their plan to extend the system by building a small robot that will perform various tasks. According to the school, team captain Guy Davidson was only kidding a little when he said the team hoped "to have [the user] vacuuming in a few weeks." While this isn't the first time we've seen lasers used to assist the disabled, you gotta wonder what's going to happen to their altruisitic spirit when these kids realize they can also just headmount one of those crazy high-powered laser pointers.

Read - CNET Cool Products Expo video (second item)
Read - Palo Alto High School press release (6MB PDF)

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