6 + 1 Super Cool AT stories from 2016 ATIA conference

This year’s  Assistive Technology Industry Association’s conference in Orlando turned out to be a really exciting few days.  We got to attend sessions, meet with our manufacturing partners and prowl the massive exhibit hall hunting for cool stuff.

This year, the weather was unseasonably hot outside (peaking at 27C.  Most years, the weather is more like Vancouver in November, than Toronto in June) and freezing in the halls with the air conditioning on max.

Despite the contradictory conditions we layered-up and tracked down what we think are the neatest AT developments at this year’s ATIA.  Here they are.

1) Insight Intelligent Learning System for Eye Gaze

Eye gaze systems like our EyeLearn solution  and Inclusive Eye Gaze Education are making huge inroads in special needs classrooms.

To support this trend, Inclusive will soon be launching (you can sign-up now for pre-release free access) a new cloud delivered intelligent learning system for eye gaze users, Insight.

Going beyond heatmaps and tracking, with activities and pacing at the right level for each individual’s abilities, Insight delivers unique detailed analysis and interpretation of students’ behaviours, strengths and areas of challenge to help inform all teaching practice.

In addition, through some clever algorithms and design, scores are device and calibration independent. So you can use it with any eyegaze system you have and even if the calibration is not perfect and interfering with accuracy, you’ll still get valuable… well… insight, to your students.

So if you have, or are getting, an eye gaze system for your classroom and want to be part of the early pre-release version, sign up at the HKL store as soon as you can. http://www.helpkidzlearn.com/shop/online-software/insight.

Insight will be offered for free for the early days of the system. Obviously, to make full use of Insight you’ll need to have access to an eye gaze system when it’s released and ensure you’re using it.

ablenet activity center (2)2) Activity Centre by Ablenet

Ablenet was registering beta testers for its new Activity Centre. This is an online suite of accessible educational activities that are aligned to curricular standards for math and language arts. Different accessibility settings (switch, switch scanning, headmouse etc.) make it a welcome curricular resource for students from mild, moderate to severe disabilities.

This will be a particularly beneficial set of tools for anyone using MeVille to WeVille or Equals.

If you are interested in being a beta tester, contact us.

 

3) New iAdapter 5 Cases

Mike, the AMDI tech, gave us the low-down on the new redesigned iAdapter 5 cases.  We got to see the guts that make the new iAdapters easier to install, more durable, and longer lasting with improved battery life.

There’s a lot less wiring because the speakers are Bluetooth. The cases are compatible from the iPad2 to the Air2.

From a physical engineering standpoint, the overall case design is slimmer, although the plastic itself is thicker and more break/drop resistant.  They’ve added rubber bumpers all around to protect the case and to make it easier to adapt the iAdapter to changing iPad form factors.  Oh, and the screws are now captive.   No more hands and knees hunting for the little buggers on the floor when you go to install or swap-out an iPad.

4) K3000 Redesign

Kurzweil has released to its web license customers the redesigned k3000.   It’s simpler and more intuitive to use for new users but keeps all the rich functionality that experienced Kurzweil users have grown to expect.

screenshot k3000 new interface
Read tab in action in the new k3000.

Also, new highlighting and note-taking features in the web-based companion firefly, enhance reading-to-learn and reading-to-write functions.  (We’ll blog about these new features in a later post.)

To get details on updating your Kurzweil, see our recent blog post.

5) Quha’s new puff headset

This sort of discovery is what makes ATIA so much fun.  A couple of years ago, we picked out the ridiculously durable Piko switches from CompAid.  This year, it was their compatriots from Finland, Quha, who had the innovative access tool.

We’re already carrying their innovative gyroscopic, Chromebook and Android ready headmouse, the Quha Zono.

Their latest addition is a puff click like no other that clips onto the Zono.  With this device (and I’m sorry, I don’t think they’ve decided on a name yet or I forgot it), you can activate a click with a puff of breath, but without actually having to touch the device to your lips. In the pictures below, Samu is running Angry Birds on an Android Tablet by pointing with the Zono and clicking with the new puff headset.

You position it so that you can talk without activating it.  But with a discreet slight puff of air down, the click is activated.

No replacing mouth pieces, no worries about hygiene, very little effort required.  We’re looking forward to getting it into Canada in a few weeks.

6) 4D Cards

These are flash cards from Indonesia that work with an app, to bring them to life.  You download the free app, but you buy the Flash Cards.  Hover your iPad or phone over the card and… well it’s a lot easier to see than describe. Check out this youtube video.

I don’t think any of us can say what exactly the educational application is, but these things are just so much fun, we just might have to add them to our products.

+1) Bridges-ites do Disney Springs

No ATIA is complete without a jaunt to Disney Springs, aka Downtown Disney.

Spurned by some of our colleagues desperate, insistent and unrelenting pleadings (someone unkind might call it “whining”) we braved the torrential downpour.  As we entered, dozens of sodden folks left.  But as you know, Bridges folks are nothing, if not optimistic and determined (someone unkind might call it “delusional”).   Sure enough, the rain soon stopped.

As you can see, we visited The House of Blues.  We were tempted to stay and rock-out to Europe, who were playing that night (The Final Countdown anyone?)  but there was still lots of work left to do the next day.  Our more temperate natures prevailed.

Maybe next year.

at house of blues d016.jpg
From left to right: Iain, Elwood, Bogdan, Alanna, Andrea, Jake and Magalie

–Bogdan Pospielovsky

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