Going Off-Road with Tracked Wheelchairs
What if you’re a wheelchair user who wants to get off the cement and go hiking or camping or have some fun in the snow? The Action Trackchair takes a rugged, outdoors, almost military, approach to the norm. They can hold 350 pounds, and can go 3-5 miles per hour. Tankchair is another option that looks similar. AND there’s the Action Trackstander that allows you to sit or stand.
Getting Out of Wheelchgairs with Exo-Skeletons
Right now, people can use things like the C-Brace that helps them get OUT of the wheelchair and walk. But those are only for certain kinds of injuries or diseases, so scientists are working hard on making it possible for EVERYONE to walk with exoskeletons. There are some out there, but they’re not very commercial just yet. The Mindwalker is particularly interesting! It sends a signal from the brain to the robotic frame around someone’s leg… which walks for them essentially. The fact that you control it with your thoughts is what’s really special! NASA is working on something similar (don’t think it reads minds!) that’s designed for astronauts, but the tech for the X1 Robotic Exoskeleton could make its way into the commercial market. And 18-year-old Charalampos Ioannou created an exoskeleton glove for people who have trouble with hand movements. Of course, it’s a hacked project at the moment, but could see its way to the market soon! And researchers in Sweden have gotten as far as creating prosthetic arms that literally tie into your nerves and muscles so it works just like arms do. Your brain sends a signal to the arm to move and it does. DARPA is also working on this tech. Crazy awesome right there!!
Printing New Body Parts
And of course, one day we’ll be able to print new legs and arms! For goodness sake, we’re already printing ears, kidneys, skin and blood vessels!
Making Gaming More Accessible
Let’s talk gaming! AbleGamers is a cool non-profit organization that’s working with the industry to make it easier for gamers to play. They’ve created a network of people with disabilities and people who don’t have disabilities to get together, help each other out and they’ve even built some contraptions to make gameplay easier!
Going Anywhere with Telepresence
There are telepresence robots that can help the disabled go anywhere, virtually! School. Work. The museum. Wherever. Among the many, there’s the Anybot, the VGo and my favorite and least expensive option, Double. You can check out my review of that here.
Speech Recognition with VoxCommando
VoxCommando is a speech recognition program that’s really customizable and useful for both the disabled and people who aren’t! It gives you voice control over your home theater PC. Tell your computer what to do in XBMC, Skype, iTunes and more apps. Thanks Michael Hehr for the suggestion!
Speaking Through Apps
Viewer Nathan Hanson showed me how his daughter uses the Proloquo2Go iPad app. She doesn’t talk, so this app does it for her! She can communicate easily, intuitively and effectively with her parents. And one that was recommended by Johan Ronstrom – a speech rehabilitation app called Dialog. Use building blocks to describe what you need. You basically “Build” your communication. Draw, import photos. Take photos. Work with maps. When you’ve built your sentence, you can play it out loud, for either someone else, or maybe even for you to practice talking if that’s your goal.
Apps for Voice to Text
And on the flip side, when I asked for recommendations on Twitter and Google+, a lot of you guys talked about using Siri and the Dragon app for voice to text. Being able to speak rather than type can be super useful with certain diseases that affect the mobility of your hands.
Software That Reads Your Screen
If you have a loss of vision, the JAWS application on Windows will read everything on your computer screen for you, so you can navigate easier.
Camera Mouse – Moving a Cursor with Your Eyes
Or some people who are paralyzed use Camera Mouse to control the mouse on the computer just by moving their head. It tracks the motion of your head and navigates based on that. If you hover over a spot, that indicates a click of the mouse.