Tag Archives: assistive technology

Walk-Bot helps people with visual impairments navigate safely

via Arduino Blog

It is no secret that visual impairments — even those that don’t result in complete blindness — make it very difficult for people to live their lives. White canes can help people get around, but they require physical contact. Seeing eye dogs provide very valuable assistance, but they’re expensive and need care of their own. That’s why Nilay Roy Choudhury designed the Walk-Bot device to help people with visual impairments navigate safely.

Walk-Bot is a wearable navigation device that uses audible cues and haptic feedback to give visually impaired people a sense of their immediate environment. It has a host of sensors that let it identify nearby obstacles at any height from the floor to the ceiling. Walk-Bot performs onboard trigonometry to determine the distance to any obstacles that might interfere with its user’s ability to walk safely. And it is affordable and easy to build with common components.

Those components include an Arduino Nano board, two HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensors, a GP2Y0A02YK0F infrared sensor, a vibration motor, a buzzer, an MPU6050 gyroscope, and an HC-05 Bluetooth module. Those all fit inside a 3D-printed wearable enclosure.

One ultrasonic sensor faces upwards at a 45-degree angle to detect high obstacles. The second ultrasonic sensor faces directly forwards. The infrared sensor points downwards at a 45-degree angle to detect low obstacles and was chosen because ultrasonic sensors struggle with some common floor surfaces. The gyroscope lets Walk-Bot determine its own orientation in space. When it detects an obstacle, Walk-Bot sounds the buzzer and activates the vibration motor. It also includes a panic button that will tell Walk-Bot to connect to the user’s smartphone through the Bluetooth module to message a chosen contact in the event of an emergency.

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Magpie MIDI is an adaptive harmonica-style computer interface

via Arduino Blog

For those with certain physical restrictions, interfacing with a computer can be a difficult task. As a possible solution, Shu Takahashi and Pato Montalvo have come up with the Magpie MIDI hands-free interface. The adaptive tool, inspired in part by a harmonica, has 13 air holes that enable its user to “sip” and “puff” all 26 letters of the alphabet.

The Magpie MIDI also features an integrated joystick and potentiometer, allowing it to function as a USB mouse for navigating a computer screen, as a MIDI controller, and even as a gaming device. Everything is controlled by an Arduino Leonardo, and uses a CD74HC4067 multiplexer to accommodate the available inputs.

More info on this amazing assistive technology project can be found in Takahashi’s tutorial, as well as the video below.

Magpie MIDI is an affordable adaptive tool that enables cerebral palsy patients and others with muscle control disabilities to express themselves in new ways. Meant to be easily customizable to meet different needs of varying degrees of disabilities, every aspect of hardware and software is open-source. The device offers new means for cerebral palsy patients and alike to express their creativity in areas of computer games, music, and writing.

Upgrading a ride-on car to a joystick-controlled assistive device

via Arduino Blog

Child-sized wheelchairs can be difficult to come by, and unfortunately aren’t as much fun as something like a ride-on car. The South Eugene Robotics Team, or FRC2521, decided to address both challenges by building a mini Jeep augmented for kids with limited mobility.

Instructions found here detail how to modify the battery-powered toy, including what can be recycled and what extra parts will need to be purchased. In the new configuration, the Jeep’s two rear motors are configured for differential control, with the input regulated by an Arduino Nano and a pair of electronic speed controllers (ESCs). 

In this project, a joystick replaces the original pedal and steering wheel, and it looks like a lot of fun when implemented in the similarly-outfitted firetruck below.