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Access4Kids input device allows disabled children to control touch-centric tablets (video)

Darren Murph
December 11, 2012
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The innovation world at large has been crafting ways for handicapped individuals to interact with computers for years on end, but the issue of tablets has created another predicament entirely. How do you enable someone to masterfully control a touch-centric device, when the mere act of touching is a challenge? Ayanna Howard, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech, and graduate student Hae Won Park have created Access4Kids, which is described as a "wireless input device that uses a sensor system to translate physical movements into fine-motor gestures to control a tablet."

In essence, it enables individuals with limited mobility to pinch and swipe, and the group has had success thus far with providing greater accessibility to flagship programs like Facebook and YouTube. Moreover, custom-built apps for therapy and science education are cropping up, with the existing prototype utilizing a trio of force-sensitive resistors that measure pressure and convert it into a signal that instructs the tablet. A child can wear the device around the forearm or place it on the arm of a wheelchair and hit the sensors or swipe across the sensors with his or her fist, providing an entirely new level of interaction for those with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy. The goal? Once it's honed, to get it out of the lab and made "into a commercial product." Head on past the break for a video look.

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