I would like to urge all of my readers to immediately visit this Kickstarter project. So much better than potato salad, this device is a revolutionary step forward in personal portable Speech Generating Device (SGD) technology. It’s wearable and allows eye contact with your conversation partner while using eyegaze.
DIG THE BEAUTY OF THIS DESIGN:
The keyboard and other controls are displayed right before your eyes. The generated voice comes from the glasses so it appears to come from you, creating a more natural conversation experience. You’re outside in bright sunlight? No problem! The glasses come with pop-on shades and because the eye-tracking camera is inside, it’s shielded from solar infrared glare. And best of all, the control unit is basically an Android-powered smart phone. This means superior portability and an open-source platform for future app development!
The man behind this innovation, Ivo Vieira, has a history of successful optical technology in satellites (his original company, Luso-Space, has a very exciting mission nearing launch to measure gravity waves with orbiting lasers). His father has ALS and is very disappointed with current eyegaze technology. Furthermore, we have met personally and I am very impressed not only with his development, but with his future plans to increase quality while decreasing costs. I am proud to recommend this project to you all. Please support this Kickstarter and help get the Eyespeak into commercial production ASAP.
Last night (at time of writing) I was treated to a personal guided tour of the Steve Saling ALS Residence in Chelsea, MA. My tour guide, via laptop webcam, was my friend Lisa Jones-Wyhlidko, the dynamo who does such excellent volunteer work for ALS Guardian Angels. She dialed me up using Google Hangout (up to 9 people in a group teleconference – a really wonderful free tool!) and said she was going to walk me around and show off the Residence.
I was amazed right off the line. The attention to detail giving the place the feel of a regular residential condominium was exquisite. Except for someone coming down the hall in a wheelchair you would never suspect this wasn’t a condo full of young professionals. The common area was the first hint of difference with tables built high enough to roll wheelchairs under. The professional kitchen made me drool. Tucked into the soft and comfortable construction were cleverly concealed safety features such as fire doors which seal off the kitchen in case of accident.
Next up was the first floor with the kosher New York style deli (complete with molded tin ceiling) and bakery. The bakery had a nice outdoor patio for use in the fair seasons. Around here I was introduced to some staff who were a little surprised to be talking to a head in a chat window at 3:30 in the morning. They were absolutely pleasant and friendly and further surprised I was on the West Coast. I love technology.
Next was the hair/nail salon and spa with jacuzzi style tub. You read that right – hair/nail salon with jacuzzi tub! PALS have a right to a hair-fluff and mani-pedi just like everybody else! The salon was pretty standard except perhaps for shampoo bowls being a little higher. The spa had vertical overhead track lifts and the tub tilted up to ease the PALS in, with contours for head and neck support.
This entire tour was done without break with a laptop using standard WiFi connection. The entire building is saturated with WiFi connection, even the outside patios and lawns (which have substructure below the sod to ensure a wheelchair doesn’t get stuck in a bog). Going up and down in elevators was seamless. This is so PALS in power chairs can call elevators and open doors for maximum independence. The PEAC system integrated into the network allows doors and other utilities to be operated by a PALS with an eyegaze system.
Simply put, this place is awesome! Readers who know me know that I despise the over-use of that word in contemporary vernacular, so you know I really mean it. Steve Saling had magnificent vision, and the Chelsea Jewish Foundation was bold and progressive in working with Steve to realize his vision in building the Steve Saling ALS Residence into the Leonard Florence Center for Living. I am proud to support the ALS Residence Initiative and hope to see at least one in every state in the country. Thank you Steve for having vision and the skill and determination to see it realized!
Last month I wrote about the Steve Saling ALS Residence. Steve recently posted a video about the technology which is a large part of what makes the Residence so wonderful for PALS. Every PALS should demand an ALS Residence in his/her local community.
Wondering about options for wheelchair-modified vans? My friend over at ALS Everyday Living has a very informative post on the subject. I urge my readers to hop over there and sign up for his updates.