Allison interviews Dr. Chris Gibbons from Smartbox about their Grid 3 software and Grid Pad hardware to help people who can’t speak to communicate. Grid 3 is a complete Augmentative and Alternative Communication software package designed to help users communicate and connect with their world using symbols, text or a combination of both. With a simple and intuitive layout, Grid 3 allows users to edit a cell or create whole new grid sets with only a few taps. Changes on the go are made easy using the touch-friendly interface. Grid Pad hardware devices come in three flavors. Grid Pad Go is a small, thin and lightweight solution for people using touch or switch access on a portable device. Grid Pad Pro is a powerful device packed full of features including high-quality audio, multiple access options, and Smartbox’s Servus environment control. Grid Pad Eye includes all the features of the Pro model but with integrated eye gaze access. Grid Pad Eye is available with a wide range of cameras to suit individual needs. The setting is CSUN Assistive Technologies Conference in San Diego, CA. Learn more at https://thinksmartbox.com/
Allison interviews Manshul Belani from AssisTech Labs about their new SmartCane device for those who are blind or visually impaired. SmartCane is an electronic travel aid which fits on the top fold of the white cane. It serves as an enhancement to the white cane and overcomes its limitations by detecting knee-above and hanging obstacles such as the railings, tree branches, inclined ladders, etc. These obstacles do not have significant footprint on the ground and thus can result in injury to the head or upper body parts. For safe mobility, it is important that they are detected early. The cane has other uses as a spatial awareness device as it can detect presence or absence of objects in the surroundings. The setting is CSUN Assistive Technologies Conference in San Diego, CA. Learn more at http://smartcane.saksham.org.
Allison interviews Bryan Wolynski from OrCam about their new MyEye 2.0 artificial vision device for those who are blind or visually impaired. MyEye 2.0 is comprised of a 13 Mpixel camera that takes a photograph and speaks back to the wearer a description of the image contents, whether it be text, facial recognition or product recognition. The device also recognizes simple hand gestures, reads colors, identifies money notes, and tells the date and time with a turn of the wrist. The MyEye 2.0 device, about the size of a finger, magnetically attaches to the stem of your glasses. In addition to the camera, the device includes a processor and speaker which transmits the audio to the wearer’s ear. MyEye 2.0 is ideal for use at work or at school, at home or on the go. The setting is CSUN Assistive Technologies Conference in San Diego, CA. Learn more at https://orcam.com/en/myeye2/
Allison interviews Duane Tsutsui from Second Sight about their implants that help some blind people “see”. The first device, called Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, provides electrical stimulation to a retinal implant to induce visual perception to blind individuals with severe to profound Retinitis Pigmentosa. The Argus II System is comprised of a miniature video camera housed in the patient’s glasses that captures a scene. The video is sent to a small patient-worn video processing unit where it is processed and transformed into instructions that are sent back to the glasses via a cable. These instructions are transmitted wirelessly to an antenna in the retinal implant. The signals are then sent to the electrode array, which emits small pulses of electricity to the retina. Patients learn to interpret these visual patterns with their retinal implant. Argus II is being used by over 300 patients and is receiving Medicare approval across several states across the U.S.
The second system called Orion Cortical Prosthesis is intended for individuals who do not have functioning eyes or optic nerves but who have had functional vision at some time earlier in life. The Orion System is similar to Argus II except that it bypasses the eye and optic nerve altogether. Instead, it sends electrical pulses to an array implanted directly on the surface of the visual cortex of the brain. Patients learn to interpret these visual patterns with their cortical implant. The Orion System has begun clinical trials with the first cortical implant performed in January 2018.
Allison interviews Ken Perry from American Printing House for the Blind about their new accessible calculators. APH makes the Orion TI-30XS MultiView Talking Scientific Calculator and the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator, both based on the familiar TI calculator designs. Both calculators announce each key in clear, high-quality speech, giving access to all menus, mathematical expressions, text, and symbols displayed on the screen. The graphing calculator allows the user to explore graphs using “sonograph” audio and haptic feedback. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Allison interviews Michael Hingson from Aira about their visual interpreter system that helps people without vision. Aira consists of smart glasses with a camera, an app on an iPhone and a MiFi connection to provide good WiFi capability. The app is used to call specially trained agents who can see what the user “sees” through the smart glasses. The user asks the agent about their visual surroundings and in real time the agent provides the requested information. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Allison interviews Frank Jones and Yvonne Felix from eSight about their new eSight 3 glasses composed of a wearable headmounted display and camera system that allows people with certain types of low vision to see better. The camera processes imagery, enhances it and displays the image on the inside of the glasses in a manner that is easier for the vision impaired user to see. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Allison interviews Meesa Maeng from BrainPort about their extremely innovative V100 system that allows the user to “see” using their tongue. The V100 uses a sensory substitution device that allows the blind to use their tongue to feel the object they are looking at. The scene is captured by a special set of glasses with a camera worn by the user that processes and sends the image to the tongue sensor. With some training, the brain learns to interpret these impulses sensed by the tongue as a visual scene. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Allison interviews Ellen Witham from Tobii Dynavox about their tools to help people with speech and language impairment. The first tool is the Compass software iPad app that works in conjunction with written material to help the user learn and speak their first 12 words. Tobii Dynavox also provides a ruggedized tablet with similar functionality as the Compass software but also can be controlled by the users’ eye movement. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.
Allison interviews Trevor Settles from Tap Systems about their innovative wearable keyboard. Tap is a bluetooth, one-handed “keyboard” that allows the user to type out characters on any surface with combinations of finger/thumb presses on the surface. Tap works with any bluetooth enabled desktop or mobile OS that supports the HID Keyboard Standard. This includes iOS and Android phones and tablets, Windows and Mac computers, and most Smart TVs. The Tap keyboard will be available for purchase around August of 2017. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.