Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frankenkindle - Brother Hacks Kindle For Sister With Cerebral Palsy

What a sweet brother he is! Glenn, an electrical engineer, worked for months on modifying the Kindle (eReader) to make it more suitable for his sister's needs who has Cerebral Palsy. During a visit to Best Buy he noticed that his sister really liked the buttons on the V.Reader. The problem had books only for children.

Glenn bought the V.Reader and worked on it for months modifying it for his sister (and posting regular updates on his blog). He finally managed to connect the V.Reader controller buttons to the Kindle,   finished the prototype around ten days ago, and posted a video of the Frankenkindle in action. He thinks it is a little slow right now, although he is not too much worried about it. He is glad that it is able to provide the functionality he was looking for.

This project is open source, and the code for the demo in the video can be found here.

Source: Makezine via Engadget

Glen's blog: Breadboard Confessions

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bionic Leg For Amputees

After seven years of hard work, researchers at Vanderbilt University have created a new "bionic" leg that is much more lighter, faster, and smarter than the regular prosthetic leg.  It is the only prosthetic leg that has the powered knee and ankle joint operating together.

 "A passive leg is always a step behind me. The Vanderbilt leg is only a split-second behind", says Craig Hutto, who has been testing this leg for several years. The Vanderbilt prosthetic walks 25% faster on level surfaces than other prosthetic legs.

The "bionic" leg has sensors that detect motion of the wearer. This data is then sent to microprocessors that predict what the person is trying to do, and acts accordingly to allows the wearer to operate the leg in ways that will make movement easier.

This leg makes it easy for a person to sit, stand, walk, and go up and down stairs and ramps. It can continuously walk for 13 to 14 kilometers (three days of normal activity) on a single charge, and weighs only nine pounds (human lower legs usually weigh more than that).

Freedom Innovations has been given exclusive rights to develop this prosthesis.

Watch the video to see Craig Hutto using the Vanderbilt prosthetic leg.

Source: via Engadget

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Subtitle Glasses" For Deaf Cinema Goers

People with hearing impairment love to watch movies, but there is a certain limitation that stops them from going out to the theaters...the screens do not display captions.
To combat this problem Sony UK is developing a pair of "Subtitle Glasses" which would put subtitles/closed captions on to the screen of the glasses. To the person wearing them it would seem like the subtitles are actually superimposed on the cinema screen.

They don't mention anything about how the glasses would work. I am speculating that they would have some kind of downloadable content available for specific movies that the user would download on to their glasses and take them to the movies, or they may have a built in speech to text converter.
These glasses were tested by Charlie Swinbourne (who is deaf), and he felt that the words on the subtitle glasses and the cinema screen were together, overall giving him a great experience. He thought that these glasses have massive opportunity in the future, and would really encourage people with hearing impairment to go out to the movies.

These glasses are expected to be out in the movie theaters next year.

Watch the video at the source link for more details.

Source: BBC

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

DrawBraille - Braille Smartphone Concept

DrawBraille is a unique smartphone concept for the visually impaired that heavily uses the Braille System. Needless to say, this smartphone does not have a conventional screen.

DrawBraille phone concept is divided into two areas - the left side of the phone is the "display" or reading area which consists of 210 mechanical dots for alphabets and numbers, and the right side has a touch sensitive input area. This area consists of 4x5 squares (20 in total). The 6 squares in the middle represent the 6 Braille dots for a single character. The user simply has to perform a three step process - touch, slide, and lift, in order to enter a character.

Since the reading area can only display five rows at a time, there is a page up/down button on the top left that allows the user to scroll through infinite lines of text. The page up/down functionality can also be used in other applications like email, book reading, messaging etc.

There are five dots on the right edge of the screen that are used for battery status. Each dot represents 20% of battery life, so three "bumpy" dots would indicate that the battery is 60% full, and so on.

Photo gallery (via

Watch the video to see a quick demo of this unique concept smartphone.

Note: Let the video buffer for some time.

Source: Core77

Sunday, August 14, 2011

6dot Braille Labeler

A new project on Kickstarter has been started by Karina Pikhart. She is in the process of bringing to the masses a Braille Labeler called 6dot which would allow anyone to create Braille labels for visually impaired people in any language!

Those familiar with Braille can use the six keys on 6dot (mapped to the six dots in the Braille System) to print labels. Those not familiar with the Braille System can attach an external standard QWERTY keyboard to the labeler and use it to create labels (for example, parents of blind children). 6dot gives visually impaired people the ability to differentiate between similarly designed objects (think bottles in a fridge, medicines, button panel on microwave etc.) by creating labels in Braille that can be stuck on such objects. The concept of Braille labelers is not new but 6dot is far more accessible and weighs significantly less than other Braillers in the market. 6dot also promises to continue to innovate this product  in the future.

6dot is targeting a $50,000 funding, and so far it has received close to $7,500 in funds. This project is open for another 26 days. 

To read more about 6dot and to donate, please go to their Kickstarter page.

Here's a video that demonstrates the need for a Braille labeler, especially 6dot.

Here's another video in which Matt Cooper shows 6dot in action.

Source: Engadget

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dyslexie - Font For Dyslexic People

All the common typefaces used these days have always been a problem for people with dyslexia because even though there are not many alphabets in the English language, quite many of them look similar, thus making reading difficult for dyslexic people. To make reading easier, Christian Boer of Studio Studio has created a new font called Dyslexie that makes changes to the structure of alphabets, punctuation etc., so that alphabets don't look similar, thus making reading easier and less confusing for dyslexic readers.

I contacted Christian Boer to get more information  about Dyslexia, and this is what I found out..

first of all, Dyslexia is not free. Currently, Christian is selling this font only in The Netherlands but soon plans to sell this font in other regions. It looks like he wants to sell to bigger groups (like schools, other organizations that focus on Dyslexia) instead of individuals to keep costs low (although his youtube page suggests that he wants to sell to individual users as well).

Watch the video to know more about Dyslexia, and how it would help Dyslexic readers.

You can contact Christian Boer here.