Sunday, April 12, 2015

INFOGRAPHIC: Best Mobile Apps for Sensory Impairments


Our friend Michael from Home Healthcare Adaptations has done it again! This time, he has created an infographic that explains what sensory impairment is, tells us the difference between vision and hearing impairment, and lists some really great apps for both types of impairment and explains how they work. Look at the infographic below for more details (click twice to enlarge). The apps listed are either free or very nominally priced. 

infographic for best mobile apps for sensory impairment



Best Mobile Apps for Sensory Impairment

What is sensory impairment?

Sensory impairment or disability, is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch or taste, is no longer functioning normally. 

A person does not have full loss of a sense to be sensory impaired.

95% of the information about the world around us comes from our vision and our hearing.

Vision Impairment vs. Hearing Impairment

285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide. 

39 million people are completely blind. 

More than 4 in 5 people living with blindness are aged 50+.

360 million people have moderate to profound hearing loss.

Current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global need.

Approximately 1 in 3 people aged 65+ are affected by disabling hearing loss.

Mobile Apps for Vision Impairment

App: Tap Tap See

What it does: Uses the device's camera and VoiceOver functions to photograph objects and identify them out loud for the user.

Features: Double tapping the screen enables the user to photograph any 2D or 3D object at any angle and define the object within seconds.

The device's VoiceOver function audibly identifies the object to the user.

Includes the ability to repeat the last image's identification and save the image to the camera roll with the attached tag.

Allows the upload of identified images from the camera roll and can share identification via twitter, facebook, text or email.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: New users are provided with 100 trial pictures to start. 4 subscription plans are available starting from $4.99+.

App: Be My Eyes

What it does: It connects blind people with volunteer helpers globally via live video chat.

A blind person requests assistance via the app.

The volunteer receives a notification for help and a live video connection is established.

Features:

Utilises the iPhone VoiceOver technology which enables synthetic speech and a touch based interface.

At the end of each session there is a 'rate it' or 'report misuse' option both for the helper and the user.

Platforms: iOS. Android version in production.

Cost: Free, but a  subscription may be put in place from September 2015.

App: Color ID

What it does: The camera on on iPhone or iPod touch speaks the names of colours in real time.

Features:

Augmented Reality technology app to discover the names of colours around you.

A toggle button at the top left corner enables the user to move from simple colours to exotic colours.

Platforms: iOS

Cost: Free.

Best of the Rest:

1. Ariadne GPS
2. Voice Brief
3. Talking Calculator

Mobile Apps for Hearing Impairment

App: ASL Dictionary

What it does:

Video instruction of over 5,000+ words signed by a professional ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter.

It offers deaf and hard of hearing people a portable and convenient way of learning and using sign language in their daily lives.

Features:

A searchable dictionary divided into 7 categories each with its own list of alphabetical entries.

An Onscreen keyboard allows users to search words and numbers.

A video comes with each video demonstrating a word, phrase, number, or symbol.

Teaches users how to translate common English phrases into ASL.

Includes 765 multiple meaning words, 473 idioms and the ASL numerical system to represent money, time, date and years.

Platforms:

iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook and Windows Mobile.

Cost: Ranging from $4.99 to $7.99, platform dependent.

App: Tap Tap

What it does:

Helps deaf and hearing impaired people respond to their audio environment.

Features:

When it detects noise, the app will vibrate and flash to alert the user.

Adjusts sensitivity for noisier environments.

Platforms: iOS

Cost: $2.99

App: Netflix

What it does: Plays unlimited movies and TV shows.

Features:

80% of the movies and TV shows it offers have closed caption subtitles for those deaf or hard of hearing.

Closed caption subtitles mean that the subtitles spell out the dialogue and the sound, for example to alert the viewer that a song is playing or a door is shutting.

Platforms: iOS, Android and Windows.

Cost: The app is free once signed up to a paid monthly subscription from $8.99.

Has a 1 month free trial option.

Best of the Rest:

1. LouderTV
2. Play It Down
3. Dragon Dictation

References:

1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/
2. http://www/who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en
3. http://taptapseeapp.com
4. http://assistivetechnology.about.com/od/PersonalCommunicators/fl/ASL-Video-Dictionary-App-For-iOS-Devices-and-Android-Tablets.htm
5. http://www.asl-dictionary.com/sign-language-dictionary.html
6. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dcal/faqs/questions/bsl/question6
7. http://www.cnetoonesupportservices.co.uk/Deafblind%20sensory%20impairments%20definitions.htm
8. http://www.who.int/disabilities/infographic/en
9. http://recode.net/2015/01/17/be-my-eyes-app-brings-help-to-the-blind-and-visually-impaired/
10. http://www.bemyeyes.org/
11. http://techpp.com/2013/05/25/mobile-apps-for-blind-visually-impaired/
12. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id402233600?mt=8sign-mpt=uo%3D8
13. http://appadvice.com/applists/sho/app-for-the-deaf
14. https://itunes.apple.com/IE/app/id369747181?mt=8
15. https://www.netfix.com

Source: Michael Leavy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MN Hands & Voices: Support Organization For Parents With Deaf Children

I recently had the privilege of chatting with Candace Lindow-Davies, who manages a program called MN Hands & Voices in Minneapolis, MN, which is a parent to parent support organization and is meant for parents who recently find out that their new born baby is deaf or hard of hearing. 

MN Hands & Voices is a local chapter of Hands & Voices which is in almost every state in the US and is expanding internationally too. 

The program’s staff members consist of  deaf parents as well and they primarily provide a unique parent perspective which is comforting to new parents to deaf children. They provide a sense of hope, and just reassure that everything’s going to be fine so that parents don't feel isolated, and understand that lots of people are successful in raising children with hearing loss. But there’s a lot more to it than just that. This is a very interesting conversation, and Candace provides a lot of insights with reference to raising children with deafness. Kiddos grow up to be successful individuals and they have  great careers, great marriages, great children!

MN Hands & Voices provides a sense of hope and community to parents, and successfully conveys the message that they are not alone. For parents, it is always comforting to talk to someone else who has done it before. This also helps establish trust and immediate credibility to the support system.

Candace talks about a lot of things, including what MN Hands & Voices does, how they reach out to parents with new borns who are deaf, how this entire process works, how a staff member is aligned to a parent, events for parents amongst other things.

MN Hands & Voices' website has a ton of resources of parents. "First Stop" and "Resources & Information" are great starting points.




Note: I will be adding a transcript to this conversation soon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Grasping For Grades: A Mom's Quest To Promote Self Advocacy in IEP

If you work with students with disabilities at a school or are a parent of a child with special needs, you are probably very familiar with IEP or Individualized Education Program. In the school system, IEP is meant to help children with special needs achieve their academic goals using several mechanisms which may include  modified classroom instruction, homework assignments, physical occupation and speech therapy, psychological counseling and many more. Through IEP, the student's academic goals and current & future accommodations are reviewed. The objective of IEP is to come up with an official document that outlines the plan to help the student perform in a "normal school culture".

In theory it sounds great. However, the truth is that IEP is a very complex process that requires a ton of documentation that is lengthy and complex, which can be intimidating, confusing and frustrating to a parent. The meetings are not regular, and they are mostly  between the parent(s) and school staff, and not necessarily the student. The guidelines around the process of coming up with a plan are rigid and archaic. At the end of it all, someone from the school staff is determining what a student requires without really getting input from the students themselves.
photo of holly with her son nathan
Holly Lane, mother of 15 year old Nathan, is on a quest to change the archaic system and bring more
flexibility and self advocacy into IEP. Nathan has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and has been a part of IEP since he was 5. Holly has been actively involved in all the meetings right from the beginning and has faced the frustration of dealing with cumbersome documentation and one sided interactions. Research has shown that students who participate in their own IEPs experience greater academic success and satisfaction [1]  and she strongly feels that student self advocacy is essential to IEP centered academic achievement [2]. She really wants administrative officials to get that message so everyone  involved (including the student) could quickly and efficiently come up with a success plan.

As a part of her capstone project for her bachelor's degree, Holly is conducting a research around the question: “How might students use technology to self-advocate during the IEP development process?”. She wants to gather as much data as possible from parents and teachers in order to propose a mechanism that will have students with disabilities involved in the development of their IEPs. If you have opinions about IEP and want to contribute to Holly's project, please go to the following link to submit your responses.


Holly is beginning to take small steps that will eventually let her and others involved in IEP take a bigger leap in making changes to the program. To begin with,  she will be sharing results of this survey with her capstone advisor and entire department. She will also be attempting to publish her research in a peer reviewed journal. Needless to say, all of her findings will be published on Holly and Nathan's website www.graspingforgrades.com where you will find more information about Nathan, IEP and of course, the survey to Holly's capstone research.

Holly has also made a short documentary that shows Nathan and her struggles as they go through their daily lives that's dictated by a not so efficient IEP designed for them.  Holly and Nathan document the shortcomings of IEP very well and provide food for thought on redesigning IEP and considering different perspectives while coming up with a plan. This documentary is a work in progress and there is more to come in the near future.




If you don't want to/ can't fill the survey, go to www.graspingforgrades.com just to read and watch Nathan and Holly's story.


[1] Mason, C. Y., McGahee-Kovac, M., & Johnson, L. (2004). How to help students lead their IEP meetings. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 36(3), 18-25.

[2] Hart, J.E., & Brehm, J. (2013). Promoting self-determination: A model for training elementary students to self-advocate for IEP accommodations. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 45(5), 40-48.

Citation Source: Holly Lane

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Home Automation: The New Path to Freedom and Independence for those with Disabilities

For those living with any kind of disability, some of the most mundane, everyday tasks can become extremely difficult. Everyday living can often be the hardest to deal with for those faced with physical and mental challenges—even their home wouldn’t be a reprieve from these struggles. Until now. We all know about smartphone apps that can help those with disabilities, but what about smart homes?

With the advent of home automation and the rapidly growing advancements in technology, those with disabilities are able to experience some relief from the challenges they face at home. Let’s explore some important advances in home automation for people living with disabilities.

The Basics

The most simplistic home automation systems are still pretty staggering when you think about the fact that only a few years ago, they were the creations of sci-fi films. Most home security companies offer home automation services that allow users to control aspects of their home (like lighting, locks, and temperature) from a central panel or remotely via a computer or smartphone. This means that the user can, for example, have the system automatically unlock the doors everyday at 5:30 PM when they get home from work or turn the lights on at 7 AM when it’s time to wake up. They can even simply lock up and turn off the lights with their phone—from the comfort of their own bed. This is perfect for those who are forgetful or physically limited and unable to constantly get up and down to turn lights on and off.

The Next Steps

Belkin WeMo switch
Belkin WeMo switch
One of the easiest ways to automate literally any electrical item in your home is with the Belkin WeMo Switch. Simply plug the appliance into the switch, which in turn, plugs into the wall. From there, you can use the company’s app to control all the devices connected to switches in your home. Being able to remotely monitor and automate all the appliances in a house means those with disabilities and their loved ones will no longer have to worry about the stove or a curling iron being left on, which could potentially be fatal. It offers freedom for those with disabilities and peace of mind for their loved ones who are able to digitally “check in” on them.
revolutionary

Housekeeping

iRobot from Roomba
iRobot from Roomba
Cleaning can be physically impossible or even dangerous for the disabled. Anyone with a disability may find it hard to reach the gutters, mop the floors, and clean their yards, among other chores. Robots can perform a wide range of tasks that maintain a home—the most famous of which, the iRobot from Roomba, does all the sweeping and vacuuming on its own without any intervention from its owner. One of the most dangerous activities a homeowner can do is clean their gutters. How many times have we heard horror stories about someone falling off the ladder and breaking a bone or worse? The Looj 330 takes that completely out of the equation with its gutter cleaning robot. This area is ever-expanding and recently saw the addition of some window washing robots as well.
Looj 330
Looj 330


As you can see, with the right combination of products, the possibilities are endless when it comes to home automation. They offer people living with disabilities a degree of freedom and independence that simply wasn’t available to them before and gives their loved ones and caretakers peace of mind.

This blog post was written by Emma Bailey. Emma is a blogger in the greater Chicago area with a keen interest in technology, astronomy, and anthropology.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Join Our Kickstarter Campaign and Make ModMath 2.0 A Reality!

a child writing with a pencil

This post has been written by Dawn Denberg, creator of ModMath. She recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to add additional features to the iPad version and also create an Android version in the near future.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall my post last September about ModMath, a new iPad app my husband and I created to help kids with dysgraphia complete math homework without pen or paper.

We built this app out of desperation. Our son, who is dyslexic and dysgraphic, was falling behind in math because his handwriting is so terrible, even he can’t read it. And if you can’t write math problems, you can’t solve the math problems.

 So we created a free app that uses the iPad touch screen and an on-screen keypad to set up and solve math problems. Assignments are laid out on virtual graph paper that can be e-mailed to the teacher. The response to ModMath from the LD community has been overwhelming. Thousands have shared our story with their social media communities. And, to date, we’ve had more than 26,000 downloads.

We continue to receive a steady stream of letters thanking us for creating ModMath. But we receive an equal number of queries asking for additional features like a keyboard with buttons for variables, coefficients, integers, exponents and other advanced math concepts. Imagine a scientific calculator, and you’ll get the picture. However, like the original app, it won’t do the calculations for the student. It just sets up the problems and and keeps their work legible. We hope to level the playing field, not give dysgraphic kids an unfair advantage.

Also on our agenda: Once we establish the more advanced iPad version, we’ll duplicate the functionality and make it available for Android tablets as well. Other possible upgrades include the ability to save your work to Drop Box or Google docs.

We are committed to adding whatever enhancements we can afford. However, we’ve already tapped out our personal funds on the beta version. We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign, where anyone moved to do so can make a donation. We set our goal at $20,000. That’s enough to cover the enhanced iPad version. But we’ll need additional funds to get that Android version built. So, feel free to overfund us. Kickstarter uses an all or nothing model, meaning if we aim to high we get nothing. So we settled on the minimum we need and hope to get much more.

video

 Give if you can. And if you can’t, just promoting our story on social media will help us reach our goal. Kids with learning disabilities have enough challenges. Please help us to help them around one of their many obstacles.


ModMath Kickstarter Campaign 

Image source: Flickr

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ripchair Provides Full Independence To Wheelchair Users So They Could Enjoy The Outdoors Again

a wheelchair user backing into Ripchair

When summer comes, the first thing we think of is the great outdoors! Some like to hike, swim, bike whereas others like to go fishing or hunting (which can be done in winters too!). However, it may not be very easy for those who are on a wheelchair. Navigating the rugged terrain in some locations may be very challenging for a wheelchair with all sorts of rocks of varying sizes, uneven terrain, hills, rivers, mud and so many other elements that can make maneuvering extremely difficult.

To overcome all these obstacles and to give wheelchair users the independence and confidence to  venture out and participate in their favorite outdoor activity and sport , Howe and Howe Tech, a small business run by two brothers out of Waterboro, ME have invented the Ripchair. Currently at version 3.0, Ripchair is an "extreme"  vehicle that has a ramp and an area big enough for a wheelchair (and its occupants) to fit in. The ramp helps the user back into the Ripchair where they get locked in and secured. Customized left or right electronic control, cup holders, lighting and other add-ons for recreational pleasure. With all the controls, accessories and add-ons, the user has full comfort and control of the vehicle that provides them great maneuverability and sturdiness. Whether it's the riverside they want to go to or on top of a mountain, Ripchair will get them there!

Ripchair specifications
Ripchair 3.0 specifications


Watch the following videos to see what all Ripchair can do and where all it can take you. 




To know more about Ripchair, visit their website. Unfortunately, there is no pricing information available anywhere on the website but the order form on the website suggests that 60% of the total price is due upfront.

Source: Legendary Speed [Thanks for sharing, Teresa!]
Image Source: TrackChairExtreme


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Calming Chair For Children On The Autism Spectrum

Joshua Jackson trying the calming chair

Quite often, children on the Autism spectrum find it extrremely hard to deal with stress and anxiety, resulting in tantrums, meltdowns and hyperactivity. It is also well known that hugging or snuggling with them (applying deep touch pressure) can calm them down, thus resulting in reduced tantrums and meltdowns.

To provide comfort to children in the form of non human touch pressure, there are solutions available in the market. However, these solutions are clunky, noisy, impractical and of course, expensive. Such "squeeze machines" or "hug machines" are 5 feet by 5 feet, weigh 300 lbs, have big industrial sized compressors, and cost several thousand dollars.

To come up with a practical and more affordable solution, Stuart Jackson, father of Joshua who is opn the Autism spectrum, challenged some engineering students to design a chair that was quiet, light and pleasing to the eye.

After a lot of brainstorming and ideas, the students came up with a design that involved a papasan chair and several other items. Inflatable air bags were put on top of the chair, topped by vinyl covers and a swimming noodle around the edges for cushion. The pressure in the air bags is regulated by a hand held remote that controls an air mattress pump. This entire arrangement is covered by a removable stretch fabric.

This chair, which has been checked for safety, weighs 30 to 40 lbs and costs less than a thousand dollars. There is a "lounger" as well that weighs 70 lbs for around the same price.

The students took it to an elementary school to test it and noticed that children, although a little uneasy in the beginning, started embracing and enjoying it as the chair inflated around them.

Now that they have the concept and substantial testing has been done, the students will interview parents of children on the Autism spectrum to gauge if there is indeed a bigger market for this chair. Once that's established, mass production of this chair will begin.

Let's wish these students the best and hope we get to see these chairs in the market soon!


[Thanks for sharing, Bridget!]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Microsoft's 3D Soundscape Technology Can Change The Way Blind People Navigate

Terry Brewell, who lost his sight 40 years ago is seen here with his walking dogand using Microsoft Soundscape Technology

The 21st century has introduced us to so many technologies, platforms and tools that help us live in a world of "constant connect and contact". Instant messaging on all devices, sending and receiving photos whenever and wherever, notifications of all sorts all the times from mobile apps and wearables - we are getting information from various sources constantly. In terms of practical uses, this is great for an able bodied person who can use these notifications for, let's say commuting from one place to another, if their wearable or phone notifies that the next bus is in 10 minutes so it's okay if they walk and don't run! However, can blind people take advantage of such mechanisms in a similar fashion? Commuting and traversing through a neighborhood or community is always stressful for blind people, however experienced they may be. First of all, they have to spend a lot of time learning routes, and even then, there are silent cyclists, smart cars, low hanging branches from trees, construction in the area amongst other things that may be overwhelming and take them by surprise. Is there a way around these obstructions that can add ease, comfort and independence to the way blind people navigate? Can we have a "constant contact and connect" system for blind people that can
make them aware of their surroundings and make daily living and moving around a breeze?

A few months ago, Microsoft, in collaboration with Guide Dogs in UK and Future Cities Catapult, an urban innovation and integration company, launched a very interesting pilot program that has potential to change the way blind people navigate.

"No. 9 bus is approaching."
"Your chiropractor is 10 meters ahead."
"Your favorite Chinese restaurant is around the corner."
"Beware: this is a main road."

Microsoft's 3D Soundscape Technology is designed to help blind people fully experience their environment without worrying about surprises and stress, and providing more independence when they are out and about. This technology consists of a location that has wifi and bluetooth powered sensors in the physical environment that will communicate with a blind person and give them verbal cues so they know where they are and what they are approaching.

There are three components to this technology:
  1. A Windows phone that will listen to external and internal sensors around the person.
  2. A pair of bone conducting headphones that sends sounds and verbal cues directly to their inner ear, leaving their ears free for environmental noise.  These headphones rest against the sides of their head.
  3. "A boosted" route: a route that has a lot of sensors in the physical environment.



As a blind person is walking through a neighborhood, they will receive all sorts of notifications and verbal cues from the sensors - turn by turn direction, nearest drug store, bus  schedule, warnings, etc. It is also capable of guiding them to the aisle that has their favorite cookies once they are inside a store. Once they are there, they can use their phone to scan the barcode on the item and find out the price! With 3D Soundscape Technology, they are practically hands-free. 

Jarnail Chudge, Microsoft employee, is seen standing at Tamerisk Avenue and holding a pair of bone conducting headphones. This is where testing for 3D Soundscape technology took place.
Jarnail Chudge, Microsoft employee, is seen standing at Tamerisk Avenue and holding a pair of bone conducting headphones. This is where testing for 3D Soundscape technology took place.
This technology can be used by itself or as a complimentary asset along with a walking dog to enhance someone's experience in their daily environment, and can bring a paradigm shift in the way blind people operate. This is still in the very initial stages of development and there are many hurdles to be overcome, but just knowing that there is someone who is giving very thoughtful consideration to the way blind people navigate is truly refreshing and exciting.

Hit the source link to read a very fascinating story on how this project came into existence and all the people involved including the designers and testers.

Source: Microsoft
[Thanks for sharing, Ken!]

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Wearable That Can Help Blind People Understand Their Surrounding

“This system could allow someone like me to focus on social interactions versus environmental aspects. It would lessen the tradeoffs I have to make whenever I’m multitasking.” - Darryl Adams, Intel employee

We saw in our last post how wearables like Reemo are taking gesturing to a totally new level. Intel, in a not so secret lab is also working on designing a wearable that will help the blind and visually impaired get a better sense of their surrounding so they could take the right actions.

This wearable, called environmental sensing system, consists of a camera and six sensors attached to
Darryl adams wearing the environmental sensing system jacket
various points of a jacket. As objects or people approach the wearer, the sensors on the shirt detect the distance and direction of said object and vibrate, thus giving the wearer a sense of their immediate environment and letting them take necessary action. Here's a simple example - a blind person with this wearable is being approached by someone from the left to greet them. With the left sensors detecting the direction and distance of the person approaching and vibrating, the wearer can immediately turn to their left and extend their hand out to greet. Similarly, in social situations, the wearer can stay engaged and focused on a conversation with someone and not worry about what's approaching them because they know that their jacket will inform them. This is especially important for people who are always in a state of mild anxiety because they are trying to figure out what's around them so they don't bump into them or fail to react to social cues.

The video below shows Intel CEO Brian Krzanich talk a bit about this wearable. In the middle of the video he also brings in Darryl Adams, an Intel employee who was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa 30 years ago and has lost almost all of his vision (he can see less than 20% of what sighted people see). Darryl explains how this wearable has helped him in day to day life and changed his life by making him more aware of his environment.



This technology will be made open source later this year and anyone can build upon it to improve the technology, the products it will be used with, and bring more comfort and convenience to visually impaired people.

Hit the source link to learn more about the prototype and what went behind the scenes to make it happen.

Source: Intel

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Reemo: Wearable That Can Automate The Entire House

photo of playtabase's cofounder al baker
Al Baker from Playtabase
In recent years, we have seen a ton of wearables that do a lot of things - track physical activities/calories burned, display email/text/phone notifications, monitor how well one sleeps at night, steps walked, workouts done, and several other activities. Typically, these wearables are worn on the hand and they don't necessarily interact with other objects in the environment - with current wearables, you cannot open or close doors, turn on or off the lights. They just interact with you (the wearer) and your phone in most cases (phone call, text, email, social media notifications).

Playtabase, a company in Minneapolis, MN co-founded by Al Baker, is working hard to take wearables to the next level - a level that will make interaction with every object in the house or office a breeze. This will be especially incredible for people with disabilities.

Reemo - What is it?

Reemo, just like several other wearables, is worn on the wrist. However, the purpose is to not just track your physical activities. Reemo works in combination with a wireless receiver and smart plug. A device or object like a coffeemaker, stereo, lock, light, door, window blinds or almost anything around the house can be connected to the receiver and operated by Reemo by simply gesturing towards it. For example, you don't have to walk up to the switch to turn it on or off or to adjust the thermostat. No need to walk up to the door to keep opening and closing it as more and more guests come in. Lights, security systems, entertainment systems, fireplace int the house - you name it, Reemo can operate it. All one has to do is wear Reemo and use one of the six gestures that can be assigned to Reemo, and Reemo performs the desired operation for them.

Reemo & Assistive Technology

Picture this - a person is in a wheelchair. They may be an amputee, have mobility issues, have had a
stroke recently and were paralyzed. Moving around in the house and operating different devices may be a struggle or in some cases not really possible. For such a person, just being in their bed or wheelchair and to be able to adjust their thermostat, start the fireplace, turn on the security system, and turn blinds up and down by just pointing and gesturing will bring great convenience. Similarly, a blind person gesturing towards their coffee machine to get a freshly brewed cup of coffee or turning on their music system without approaching it and looking for buttons will be tremendously convenient as well.

Al sees Reemo in the assistive technology/care realm as a complimentary device. Currently, there are around 10 - 11 million homes that are "smart" as compared to a total of 135 million homes in the US. He also says that homeowners and caregivers at various facilities have started looking at smart technology but they want solutions that are better than what a phone app offers to really control everything. That's where Reemo fits in nicely.

There are currently 110 developers that are developing applications for Reemo whether as an assistive technology device or something really cool because after all, Reemo is not just a technology for people with disabilities - it's a technology for anyone, including lazy people!

Listen to Al talking about Reemo and assistive technology below:



Reemo Demo

Al was kind enough to give me a demo of how Reemo works. The scenario in this video is that of a person who is going to bed and wants to turn off the light(s) and turn on the lock on the door (both at the same time). This demonstrates that with one gesture, multiple objects/devices can be operated. Al also shows how, with a different gesture, just one of the multiple objects in the setup can be operated as well.





Note: I will add captions to the video soon!

Now that you have seen the demo, watch the following video too to get an idea of what all you can use Reemo for:


Reemo For life from John Valiton on Vimeo.

Inspiration Behind Reemo

Reemo came into existence for two reasons - one, to do cool things, and two, because Playtabase's cofounder Muhammad's father suffered two strokes that left half of his body disabled. The idea was to give him a "universal remote" that he wouldn't drop and it would just consist of a wave of a hand. They wouldn't have to pay anyone so much to look after him because not only would it make him more independent but also make him feel emotionally better.  During the same time, the emergence of smart homes and wearables also encouraged Al and Muhammad to create a solution that will work on all smart watches and wouldn't be proprietary. 

Hear Al talk more about the inspiration behind Reemo:


Reemo - The Product

In the next month and a half, Reemo will be shipped to its alpha and beta users. It will be available to consumers sometime during summer of this year. The consumer kit can also be pre-ordered on Reemo's website for $249 (and $299 for a developer kit).

To know more about all the great progress Reemo's making and to get the latest news, sign up on for their mailing list.

Playtabase

Playtabase has been around for two and half years and Reemo for around two. Playtabase has aspirations to create products that are both engaging and fun to use but are also meaningful and have a lot of depth.



Website: www.getreemo.com