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LipSync

An assistive tech which allows quadriplegics to use touchscreen mobile devices using a mouth-operated joystick with sip and puff controls

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Touchscreen devices have become a staple piece of technology in this day and age. Most people cannot get through the day without using their smartphone. It keeps us connected. It keeps us organized. It is an integral part of our social lives. For people in wheelchairs whom experience difficulties with fine upper body motor control, the usage of mobile devices can be very challenging. Statistics show there are over 1 million people in the United States and Canada that have very limited or no use of their hands, making touchscreen devices very difficult or impossible to use.

The "LipSync" is an assistive technology device which is being developed to allow quadriplegics and other people with limited hand use the ability to use touchscreen mobile devices by manipulation of a mouth-operated joystick with integrated sip and puff controls. We are releasing all of our work open-source, to make the Lipsync a solution that can be made at the community level for less than $300.

OVERVIEW

In 2016, upwards of 1.6 billion people in the world are using smartphones. Smartphones are becoming a staple piece of technology for many citizens in North America and around the World. Smartphones and touchscreen devices enable users to navigate around their city better, to communicate with others more freely, and to operate applications which can promote happy and productive lives. Currently, there exist a limited number of practical devices for quadriplegics to use touchscreen devices - this is where we step in.

The LipSync is an electronic device which allows quadriplegics the ability to use compatible touchscreen and computer devices without the use of their hands. The user is able to manipulate a cursor on their device screen using a mouth-operated joystick with integrated sip and puff controls to simulate the actions of "tap" and hitting the back button, respectively. With longer sips and longer puffs, additional secondary features are enabled including a "tap and drag", "long tap and drag" and the possibility of more specialized functions as per the user's needs.

The LipSync is design specifically for portable devices, it does not require AC power, but it will work with any device including desktop and laptop computers that support mice through a universal serial bus (USB) or the Bluetooth connection.

The LipSync is an open-source hardware project where all of our 3D printer files, component lists and microcontroller code are made public. In the spirit of accessibility, our housing can be 3D printed, the electronic components are readily available and the assembly is as straightforward as possible.

The LipSync was envisioned as a holistic solution that takes in to consideration not only the interface but how the system is to be mounted on the user’s wheelchair. The actual electronics of the device is on part of the implementation. There are no standardized methods to which wheelchairs are designed. Wheelchair manufacturers can use round or square tubing. They often also use tubing which is not compatible with other manufacturers so that customers must buy accessories from them. As a result, there is not a standard location or clamping mechanism to mount assistive technology on the chair.

Wheelchairs are also customized to the user, including the height, width and seating position of the user. The seating on the wheelchairs are customized to minimize the incidents of pressure sores. As a result, the mounting system for assistive technology such as the LipSync also has to be customized. In addition to the instructions to assemble a LipSync, we have included instructions on how to mount a LipSync. A combination of off-theshelf and custom 3D printed components are provided in order to help makers create a fully integrated and customized solution for the user.

Now the maker community and disability community can meet, collaborate and work together constructing a LipSync over a period not much longer than a weekend. We hope these new relationships will continue spurring innovation within the maker community.

There are 3 main aspects we will be addressing in our project:

  1. Developing an easy to build, but robust electronics assembly that novice to experienced makers can build;
  2. Developing a device housing which can be 3D printed by makers either at home or at dedicated facilities;
  3. Creating mounting options for a variety of wheelchairs with 3D printed parts and/or commercially available components.

SMARTPHONES AND ACCESSIBILITY

Smartphones, by their very nature, are intended to be used while on the go. Traditional assistive technology designs for the desktop and laptop computer are not portable in nature, so they cannot be easily applied to smartphones. While single and dual input systems exist for smartphones, they are slow and frustrating to use for users with more capabilities of movement. Single and dual input switches are appropriate for users that can only make one or two movements consistently. The LipSync is...

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  • Bring Makers Making Change to Your Community

    Chad02/04/2019 at 23:59 0 comments

    You can bring Makers Making Change to your community in two ways: by becoming a Community Champion or by starting a Community Chapter.

    Sign up as a Community Champion

    • Raise awareness through hosting a presentation at your workplace or in your community
    • Distribute our pamphlet to maker and disability groups in your region
    • Help identify interested parties and user needs
    • Express interest in being a Community Champion here

    Sign up to start a Community Chapter

    • Use your makerspace, classroom or club as a hub for 3D printing and/or building of projects requested from our open source Projects Library
    • Lead events and workshops: engage makers and/or disability professionals in fun meetups that help identify device needs, teach maker skills and build community between these groups
    • Express interest in starting a Community Chapter here

    Our Low-Tech AT Kit, which includes (clockwise from top right): bottle opener, palm pen holder, ball pen holder, key turner, nail clipper

    Shortly after we review your application, we'll send you some documents to read over followed by a quiz. Once you successfully complete the quiz, you will be given access to marketing materials, template emails, presentations, and outreach materials to start making connections in your community.

    Questions? Please reach out to Zee Kesler, Makers Making Change Project Manager, at zeek@neilsquire.ca.

    We appreciate all the help! We couldn't do what we do without volunteers who contribute their time and skills.

  • Switch Survey

    Chad02/04/2019 at 23:56 0 comments

    Do you use switches or care for someone who does? Or are you a disability professional who works with or prescribes switches? We’d love your feedback on what type of switches we should be working on. We want to know what is important to you in terms of using switches, and what you are looking for in custom switch designs. A variety of open source and commercial switches. Please fill out our Switch Survey: https://tinyurl.com/MMCSurveySwitch. Thank you for your help!

  • Upcoming Events in the US

    Chad09/20/2018 at 16:47 0 comments

    Over the next couple weeks, we'll be hosting and attending a range of buildathons, maker faires, and workshops in the United States. Each of them offers an opportunity to have fun and learn new things while working together on solutions to benefit people with disabilities.

    Students solderingStudent makers working on LipSyncs at a prior buildathon

    We hope you’ll join us at an event or two if you’re in the area. Click on each event link to learn more and register:

    We look forward to seeing you!

  • AT Makers' Fair

    Chad09/12/2018 at 22:03 0 comments

    On September 29th, Makers Making Change will be in Concord, NH for the AT Makers’ Fair. This AT-dedicated fair brings together makers of all abilities to share ideas, develop new skills, and enhance innovations for people with disabilities.

    The fair will feature talks by AT maker movement leaders, hands-on workshops, an AT Invention contest, a Make AT Café makerspace, and more.

    Makers working on toy adaptations

    The Make AT Café is a particularly cool space. Participants can make and take home a variety of AT devices using various plastics, wire, specialty tapes, and basic hand tools. Many of the devices address specific challenges; these include low vision devices, holding and gripping devices, toy adaptations, communication access devices, and more.

    In addition, Chad Leaman, Director of Innovation, will be facilitating a workshop called Connecting to Makers and Quality Open AT Projects. The workshop will explore a range of freely available open-source assistive devices and resources, as well as community groups that can help in designing and making assistive devices.

    Register now for the AT Makers’ Fair. The deadline is September 14th. We look forward to seeing you there!

  • We're Hiring a Regional Coordinator in Calgary

    Chad09/04/2018 at 17:46 0 comments

    Are you actively involved in the maker community in Calgary?

    Are you an electronics and 3D printing whiz?

    We are looking for a Regional Coordinator who will work to integrate Makers Making Change within the community. You’ll love this role if you are a maker who is actively involved in maker culture – someone who is passionate about creating in all aspects of life. You'll interact and work with diverse groups of people, including people with disabilities, organizations, and disability professionals.

    Makers working on LipSync parts

    Makers at a prior LipSync Buildathon, soldering away

    As a Regional Coordinator, you'll help integrate our work into makerspaces and hackspaces, whether at libraries, universities, for-profit or community-run spaces, or schools. In addition, you'll have the opportunity to develop curriculum for middle and high school students, utilizing “design thinking” methodologies.

    Read more about the opening. We look forward to connecting with you!

  • Maker Faire New York

    Chad08/23/2018 at 20:39 0 comments

    Exactly a month from now, we will be at World Maker Faire New York. You can meet us at our booth throughout the weekend of September 22–23. Learn more and get your Maker Faire tickets here: https://makerfaire.com/new-york/

    Maker Faire New York -- See us there!

    At Maker Faire, I will also be on a panel centred on making assistive technologies for people with disabilities. I'll be joining these brilliant makers:

    • Jon Schull of e-NABLE, a network of volunteers creating free open-source 3D printed prosthetics for children and underserved populations
    • Holly Cohen of DIYAbility, which empowers people to not only to make access solutions for people with disabilities, but to also help people with disabilities be makers
    • Liz Arum of Ultimaker, who is 3D printing resources for blind students

    We’re interested in organizing a small LipSync Buildathon or two in the week after Maker Faire in the New York area and on the East Coast. If you’d like to be involved, please email me at chadl@neilsquire.ca.

    We look forward to seeing you there!

  • Testing, Testing...

    Chad08/09/2018 at 22:17 0 comments

    We're having a busy and fun time doing a lot of backend work here at Makers Making Change. One of our projects: testing and fixing a whole bunch of LipSyncs to make sure they are functioning brilliantly before being sent to people who need them.

    Completed LipSyncs in a box

    We are glad to have Fawzan’s help in testing these LipSyncs. As you may remember, Fawzan is a high school student who, along with his student group, 3D-printed assistive devices from our library for people with disabilities. Read more about Fawzan’s work.

    You won't hear from us as often in the next few weeks while we work on these projects. In the meantime, you can always give us a shout or get involved on our website. Have a bright rest-of-the-summer!

  • Sign Up On Our Website

    Chad08/02/2018 at 20:30 0 comments

    Have you browsed the new Makers Making Change website? We’ve started to get a lot of signups and our Projects library is expanding!

    Here’s how you can sign up and get involved.

    1. Go to www.makersmakingchange.com/login.
    2. Enter your information and click Sign Up.
    3. Check your email to activate your registration.
    4. Select your role(s). Choose from maker, person with a disability, disability professional, teacher, and/or other.
    5. Upload a profile photo and indicate your skills, if applicable. This may include soldering, electronics, 3D printing, etc.

    The new Makers Making Change website homepage

    The Makers Making Change website homepage

    That’s it! Now click on Connect in the sidebar to search for makers, project requests, or events in your area. Explore the open-source Projects library and make a device for a person with a disability. Or upload your own project or idea.

    If you have a disability and feel a certain project will improve your life, you can request a build. We’ll connect you with a maker in your community who can build the device for you.

    Let's collaborate!

  • What AT Can Help Students with Disabilities?

    Chad07/19/2018 at 17:45 0 comments

    We are currently working on expanding our open-source assistive technology library by adding devices that can help youth. We have some questions for teachers to help us get started.

    A hand using a key turner to open a door

    The key turner, a popular low-tech AT device from our library

    What disabilities do your students have? Are there any assistive devices you can think of that would be a valuable addition to your classroom? If your students are already working with some assistive technology, click a photo of the device and send it to us!

    You can reach out by contacting Zee Kesler, Makers Making Change Project Manager, at zeek@neilsquire.ca. Thank you for your help!

  • We Fixed 40 LipSyncs

    Chad07/16/2018 at 22:26 0 comments

    On Thursday, July 5th, Makers Making Change was at Vancouver Hack Space to repair a few LipSyncs. In just a few hours, around 12 volunteers helped us troubleshoot and fix 40 LipSyncs. We can now send these completed LipSyncs to people with disabilities who need them. Thank you to everyone who came out to help! Staff and volunteers at a table Above: Makers Making Change staff and volunteer makers working on LipSync parts Shaemus, our Research and Development student, soldering Above: Our Research and Development student, Shaemus, soldering Completed LipSyncs after the event Above: A whole bunch of completed multi-coloured LipSyncs

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Discussions

Mark Brady Ingle wrote 07/02/2017 at 22:52 point

is anyone still working on this project?  I need some help and ordering information on the mouth piece parts

  Are you sure? yes | no

Chad wrote 07/08/2017 at 16:14 point

hey Mark glad we caight up on email..sorry not logging into hackaday as often as I should. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mark Brady Ingle wrote 06/27/2017 at 02:50 point

I am testing on Mac and need the instructions for the RED/Green flash sequence.  I have a bluetooth connection established but I am not able to go any further.  Help would be appreci

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Trent Robertson wrote 05/30/2017 at 16:00 point

Thank you for sharing this project. One of my best friends has ALS and would benefit from this. I have already set up voice recognition features in her apartment to allow her to control lights, air conditioning, and the TV, but she still needs someone to hold and control a tablet for her if she wants to surf the internet. I hope to find the time to build this soon.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Chad wrote 07/08/2017 at 16:13 point

hey Trent let us know if we can send you some parts / the main boards!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mark Brady Ingle wrote 05/09/2017 at 20:53 point

Hello team!  Are the current instructions online the most current?  I have enough parts to get started so I wanted to make sure. 

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Chad wrote 05/11/2017 at 20:20 point

Hi Mark, we have added the most recent as of now.  Let us know if you got questions with the build and in particular ping @Ivan.Gee if you need in particular details

  Are you sure? yes | no

eroy wrote 01/02/2017 at 23:34 point

Thank you for this project! I am endlessly disappointed in the cost of assistive technology. To make something like this open source is a gesture rarely seen. 

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Charles G wrote 02/26/2017 at 06:49 point

Thank you for the kind words eroy! Stay tuned in the next couple weeks as we launch a new and improved version of the LipSync at an even lower price point!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Manuel Z wrote 10/10/2016 at 19:18 point

this is an amazing project! congratulations!!!! 

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Charles G wrote 10/10/2016 at 23:14 point

Thanks, Manuel!

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Sadiq Mohamed wrote 09/22/2016 at 12:02 point

A very worthwhile project. I had a friend with MS who would have benefited from this. Unfortunately he died some years ago. I wish you the best of luck with your testing and look forward to the results.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ivan wrote 09/22/2016 at 17:55 point

My condolences about your friend @Sadiq Mohamed . I am glad you believe in our project, we are working our tails off over here so we can start getting makers and users together to start building these and help increase people's quality on life. Just as a side note, our plans are to continue compiling and refining open-source assistive technologies, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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