An estimated 1,000,000 people in Canada and the United States have limited or no use of their arms—meaning they are unable to use touchscreen devices that could provide access to helpful apps and services.
Thanks in part to funding opportunities provided by Google.org, The Neil Squire Society has developed an affordable Solution – the LipSync, and they are currently looking for 150 people with disabilities to receive one for free.
The LipSync is a mouth operated joystick that allows quadriplegics and others with limited use of their arms the ability to use a smartphone, tablet, or other portable device. LipSync users control a computer cursor with a minimum of head and neck movement. Electronics are housed in the ‘head’ of the device so there are no additional control boxes, making the LipSync a good candidate for portable, wheelchair-mounted applications. The mouthpiece is attached to a precision miniature joystick sensor that requires only a very slight pressure on the shaft in order to move a cursor on the screen. The mouthpiece is hollow and allows a person to perform left and right mouse button clicks by alternatively puffing or sipping into the tube.
The LipSync has been released and made available open source. A main principle of open-source development is peer production, with products such as source code, blueprints, and documentation freely available to the public. This will allow the LipSync to be affordably made at the community level by makers, engineers, tinkerers, and hobbyists. The total cost will be less than $200 to source and assemble 3D printed parts, an Arduino board, bluechip module, and other components, and it can be built as a weekend project.
The Society’s Makers Making Change initiative is connecting makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technologies. They are the first organization in Canada to revolutionize how people collaborate on assistive technology projects. Their teams of makers and people with disabilities are joining forces to reinvent what’s possible for accessible open-source solutions.
The Society is currently piloting 150 LipSyncs in the Pacific Northwest. During the pilot, the cost of the LipSync will be absorbed by the Society. The goal of the pilot is to ensure the technology works well and that the distribution model of connecting makers to people with disabilities can be successful.
If you have a high level of disability that limits your ability to use a smartphone or other portable device, and you would like to receive a LipSync, please visit www.neilsquire.ca/lipsync.