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Month: January 2020

CES 2020: some interesting developments for people with disabilities

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s largest consumer technology exhibition and showcases the products likely to appear in our shops in the coming months. With over 40,000 new products and concepts on display, it stands to reason that there are some interesting products that open exciting possibilities for people with disabilities.

This year the big brands are continuing to refine new products such as foldable smartphones, driverless cars and 8K televisions which may offer promise in the future, but aren’t quite there yet for the everyday consumer with a disability. There were, however, some innovative niche products which are certainly of interest in the disability space. Here’s my pick for some of the interesting consumer electronics likely to help people with disabilities that will hopefully be available soon.

The Y-brush: clean your teeth in 10 seconds

When you look up a list of the most important inventions in recent centuries, the toothbrush always appears due to its significance to our overall health. It’s no surprise then that a toothbrush that allows you to brush your teeth in less than 10% of the time it usually takes was one of the big hits at CES this year.

The toothbrush achieves its task by cleaning an entire row of teeth in one go. It works by inserting the toothbrush in the mouth, biting on it to activate, then waiting five seconds while it brushes the entire row of teeth. The brush can then be flipped to clean the other row for another five seconds.

While aesthetically the brush doesn’t look particularly appealing, for people with disabilities it has the potential to be significant. People with a mobility impairment often find tasks such as brushing teeth challenging, so this simple and time-saving process is likely to be helpful for individuals and carers of people with disabilities as no rapid movement is required.

Samsung Selfie Type invisible keyboard

Recently I was setting up an Android TV box and found it difficult as I couldn’t set up the accessibility features until I had entered in my account information. As I’m legally blind, the on-screen keyboard wasn’t much help to me and I ended up having to hunt down a USB keyboard so I could manually type in my credentials. This is just one example of where the Samsung Selfie type keyboard could prove very useful for people with disabilities.

Using the camera in your smart device, you can put your fingers on a nearby surface and start typing as if you were using a keyboard. The camera calculates the location of your fingers on a QWERTY keyboard and starts to input your keys selections. While accuracy may vary, people at CES that have tested the prototype report that after a short bit of training, the virtual typing becomes reasonably accurate. The idea that I always have a keyboard available is something I personally find very exciting when assistive technologies on smartphones and other devices aren’t always available in every situation.

Code Jumper

There was also several disability-related benefits to products that were winners for the Best of Innovation awards.

Code Jumper is one such innovation which was developed by Microsoft and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). It works by putting code blocks using audio to represent sequencing and variables to teach people who are blind and vision impaired how to code. This may improve employment opportunities for people who are blind and is a very exciting initiative.

Norm Glasses

Another interesting product is the Norm Glasses which contain a computer within the glasses. The accessibility aspects of this is that they have the ability to display captions during video playback and are based on Android so it contains basic smartphone capabilities such as the Google assistant and turn-by-turn navigation which has the potential to bring in augmented reality in an accessible way. Still very early days in this space but certainly the potential for real-time captioning and audio navigation could open new doors for people with disabilities in engaging with the environment.

NextMind

Perhaps one of the most interesting devices from CES 2020 this year is more about its future potential for people with disabilities than what it is currently able to achieve. The Next Mind allows for thought control interaction with virtual and augmented reality. It works by translating thoughts into commands which has a huge potential for supporting people with mobility, speech and cognitive disabilities to simply think about where they want to go or do and the command is represented in the visual interface. While it will also be some time before this is something that could be used everyday, its potential for a variety of disability groups could be groundbreaking.

That’s just some of my personal picks form CES 2020 this year. For in-depth coverage, please refer to the CES 2020 section of CNet website.

Outrunning the Night Vietnamese translation launched at RMIT Vietnam

It’s a great honour and privilege to share with you that my book ‘Outrunning the Night: a life journey of disability, determination and joy” had its Vietnamese translation launch at the RMIT Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City campus.

Scott standing next to a poster of the Vietnamese book cover of Outrunning the Night

The translation project began when I visited RMIT Vietnam in 2017 where Đỗ Đức Minh, an RMIT Vietnam employee of Wellbeing Services that supports students registered with Equitable Learning Services, asked if my book could be shared with the wider Vietnamese community through the creation of a translated version. Thanks to his efforts and the dedication of translators Lê Thị Vân Nga and Đào Thị Lệ Xuân over 14 months, the translation was completed.

Scott presenting at the book launch

The book launch focused initially on the book contents, discussing topics relating to my early life and diagnosis, the importance of family and friends, education and employment, the need to give back and the challenges associated in getting out the front door. The presentation then turned to the Vietnamese translation itself and how the translation team led to the translation of the book into Vietnamese as a paperback and professionally recorded audio book. After the presentation, a book signing took place where 100 paperback copies were provided.

The translation team for the Vietnamese translation of Outrunning the Night with Scott and his family

The development of the Vietnamese translation of the book and audio recording would not have been possible without the generous support of the following people and organisations:

  • Do Duc Minh, Student Aid Co-ordinator RMIT University, Vietnam
  • Tran Le Nhu Phuong, Safer Community Advisor, RMIT University, Vietnam
  • Dao Lam Duy Duong, Alumni, RMIT Vietnam
  • Le Thi Van Nga, Translator
  • Dao Thi Le Xuan, Translator
  • Vu Thi Tuyet Mai, representative of Cristofoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), Vietnam. Sponsor of the Vietnamese translation.

The audio book of the Vietnamese edition is freely available for playback in full at www.outrunningthenight.com.

Thanks again for making my family and myself so welcome in Vietnam in what was a very special day.