Currently, many clients at Saint Vincent utilize multiple systems of uniquely configured AAC technology to access multiple features. This is to say that a client's system for triggering the call bell, for example, is not connected to other technology surrounding the client, like Google Home. Centralized systems that overcome this issue are prohibitively expensive for many clients or the AAC clinic at Saint Vincent.
Volunteers and researchers at Saint Vincent have attempted to overcome this issue. SensAct is an open source, low cost microcontroller which extends the ability of a switch to control multiple devices. SensAct can receive input from touch and light sensors, gyroscopes, joysticks and mice to relay information to technology like smartphones, tablets, computers, Raspberry Pi and other palmed sized computers, and call bells. The output method can take many forms, such as USB connection, Bluetooth, infrared light, and mouse and keyboard functions. Additionally, SensAct is extendable to smart home automation, being able to control lights, input to smoke alarms, and thermostats via the Internet of Things (IoT). Essentially, SensAct acts as the link between dedicated AAC devices and consumer technology that was not designed with accessibility as a primary consideration. SensAct can be easily configured by an end user or AAC professional for use in many settings. With built in calibration capabilities, SensAct boasts a common physical interface that allows multiple input sensors to be installed in a plug-and-play fashion. Importantly, SensAct has also been created with the "shield" concept in mind, making it compatible with the Arduino platform.
SensAct is well into development but has encountered several issues. One of these issues is the lack of a user interface that functions ideally with SensAct. SensAct's user interface is intended to be used by all individuals, which requires designing with non-technical individuals, such as the health care provider, allied health professional, caregivers, and clients themselves, in mind. Currently, SensAct has a complex user interface built on Java. There have been attempts to simplify the UI in HTML and on NodeRed, both designed as wizards or set-up assistants. At MakerCon 2019, the goal of this challenge will be to either improve upon an existing or design a new user interface for SensAct. The user interface will be informed by the needs of clients within Bruyere Continuing Care and the technical abilities of health care professionals. The user interface should allow individuals with no technical experience to set up SensAct. Additionally, participants are encouraged to note and improve on perceived weaknesses in SensAct technology as they see fit during the course of the challenge.
Open Assistive: https://openassistive.org/item/sensact/
Google Drive: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ig2oIeiWvrePwkLTbnot3c8x_9F-XaMp