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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Biofeedback in Schools

Integrating biofeedback into social-emotional learning programs in schools

The video below shows more than a serene Oregon scene.  The sound and colored light correspond to  the patterns picked up by a heart rate monitor.  Using diaphragmatic breathing (or belly breathing) the user can create stable wave patterns or heart rate variability.  Slow rhythmic breathing can help the user feel calm and more present.  The biofeedback (sound and colored light) helps the user understand when their breathing patterns are optimal.  The green light indicates a steady pattern of heart rate variability also referred to as a high coherence.  You can see the adjustable breathing pacer at the top of the screen.  This helps the user practice rhythmic breathing.  The program captures useful data including overall heart rate pattern, percentage of time in 'the green zone' among other metrics.  It also gauges the users affect or mood before and after the biofeedback practice.

 My critique: It would be nice if adjusting the breathing pacer was easier and didn't require stopping the program and navigating to a new window.    Also, in my experience, extending the exhale breath is preferable.   Overall, it's a nice app. but I'm looking forward to the price of the sensors coming down.  There are other apps / programs out there that I haven't tried. 
This app, Inner Balance from HeartMath is free.  However, the heart rate sensor, which connects to the ear, costs roughly $100.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

A New way to Give Language?

I really like the idea behind this.  At you can type something (or use speech to text) and a web-based synthesizer will make your words into beautiful sounds.  I'm guessing the designers will be introducing percusive and harmonic variations soon.  
I hope researchers connect a program like this to the brainwaves of people with limited mobility.  

Here's my sample:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Implications for Smart Sensor Lighting

App controlled LED lights could take curriculum like The Zones of Regulation to a new level.  Students could adjust ambient lighting to reflect their color/zone.  They may even be able to positively affect their zone with external cues (light). An Arduino Automation Smart Sensor Lighting system is relatively inexpensive but requires a bit of tinkering to put together.  This set up is not in a fancy package but has tremendous potential.  There are other similar LED light controlled systems through some major outlets.  Here's to moving toward or staying in the Green.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Grammarly is a tool to improve your writing, find and fix punctuation errors, and improve word choice.

Grammarly is  a tool to improve your writing, find and fix punctuation errors, and improve word choice.  I've only used it a little by inserting some intentional errors in this post(sample below).  It looks promising assuming the suggestions are subtle and corrections are easy to make.  If you have tried it and have thoughts please comment below.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

X-keys USB Switch Interface

6 dual switch ports in a compact, low profile footprint. Easily convert any switch closure to a keyboard, multimedia, or mouse command.
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android
*this is not intended as an ad.  Testing and review to follow.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Assistive Robot Arm for Power Chair

Eye Tracking in Virtual Reality

Eye tracking in virtual reality may sound a bit strange on it's face (no pun intended).  However, this technology has huge implications for some of our most fragile and impacted students (with CP, Retts, etc.).  Imagine what might happen if a student is given the ability to have a large impact on their reality, albeit virtual.  This has the potential to greatly open up neural and motor pathways and have a profound impact on the development of people feeling stuck in their bodies.  How empowering would it be if this technology opened up communication and occupational exploration opportunities? Looking forward to seeing how this develops.  
Pete Carpenter MOT, OTR/L

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Web-based switches

A re-occuring theme that keeps coming up for me is the need for a customizable web-based interface for students with Retts or CP.  I like the design of the (PBS Kids) interphase in the attached video.  The spinning wheel of choices would be easily customizable (communication needs, videos, etc) speed could be slowed down and the icons could be magnified when highlighted.  If you know anyone that would have the interest/skills to work on something like this please contact me @mrprcarpenter

Here is a web-based switch interface editor.  I haven't learned how to use it but it looks promising. (pic. below)

Also see an expanding database of online switch based programs here:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Smart earplugs

Army's Smart Earplug Damps Explosive Noise, But Can Enhance Whispers

Monday, May 23, 2016

A request to Lego:

Please help lobby Lego to make conductive (Maker) Legos by sharing this article/request.

"As an educator and assistive technology practitioner I work on ways to improve access for kids with disabilities.  One technique my colleagues and I use involves using a small micro controller (MakeyMakey) in conjunction with conductive materials (e.g. bananas, clay, etc) to make customized switches.  These switches can automate a voice, turn on a light, or play a song. 

I was excited to hear about Legos commitment to reducing the use of plastics and moving toward a more bio-degradable alternative.  Partly for the environmental reasons and partly for the hope that Legos could some day be conductive, allowing kids and AT practitioners alike to make tools for kids with disabilities.  

I'm writing in hopes that you might be able to consider using conductive materials in developing the next generation of Lego.  It would certainly open a lot of doors for our kids.

Thank you kindly for your time and consideration,"
Pete Carpenter (occupational therapist, father, and Lego fan) 

If you have thoughts or questions, please add to the comments section below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Looking to open doors with 2 buttons for under $100

Charles Shattuck has been helping me develop an affordable, programmable, wireless, two button switch system.  Once refined, this device can help people with limited mobility, navigate social media, play music, take pics/vid, and have a voice for under $100.  Thanks Chas for the help.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Engineering Smart Wheelchairs

“Our end goal with this is for people who have disabilities to be able to have freedom,”

Martin Gerdzhev, graduate student working on the SmartWheeler at McGill University in Montreal.

 Having a wheelchair that can autonomously navigate its environment would be a boon for children or people who have cognitive impairments, don’t have enough upper body strength to maneuver a regular wheelchair or are paraplegics. Often people who can’t move their hands and arms must resort to “sip and puff” devices that control a motorized wheelchair through changes in air pressure, which can get exhausting.  Researchers have been working on robotic wheelchairs for decades, but thanks to the advent of better computer-vision and navigation algorithms, more powerful computers and more sensitive sensors, scientists are starting to make some progress.
Plus, there are self-driving cars on the road now, from Google and many automakers. With more public awareness of autonomous vehicles, so the technology doesn’t seem as foreign or futuristic as it once did.   For full article please see:

"The hard part, she says, is convincing insurance companies and government health agencies to pay for them, as autonomous wheelchairs aren’t going to come cheap."

Case Western Reserve University

Friday, March 18, 2016

Implications for people with sound sensitivities.

Wireless earbuds have a heart rate monitor, pedometer and touch sensor allowing you to answer calls, and control volume.  Audio Transparency is a feature that  helps customize auditory inputs (Background noise in relationship to music volume)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Moov Fidget chair: Implications for wheel chair / hover chair integration

An innovative chair that harnesses energy produced from your movements to power your gear.

The Moov chair, a prototype, converts your movements into electricity by way of 288 piezoelectric crystals located under the seat cushion Piezoelectricity is an electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials, in this case crystals, in response to pressure." article by Bonnie Burton @bonniegrrl 
Full CNet article:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Short documentary: Accomable: Enabling Adventure

Accessibility services / resources

I recently posted the following question to a credible knowledge base:

"I would really like there to be an agency/entity/group that systematically reviews products based on accessibility. Whether it's opening up a bag of chips or a browser, I'd like to reward the companies and engineers that make product accessible. Does anyone know of such an agency?"

I found out about of a couple of resources through the response:



Monday, January 11, 2016

Verve: an interface that enables variable switch sensors to control your computer

Does anyone know if it is possible to easily program sequential commands (quick keys) on this device?
For example, pressure sensor activation triggers a command opening the web browser and play music.  Please write in the comments section below.

Friday, October 30, 2015

OCR text to speech apps coming along

The goal: allow people to hear the text of an article, web page, or book by simply pointing their camera at text.
There are a lot of OCR apps and programs out there.  However, inaccuracy is a common problem and very few apps have made it easy to hear the scanned text immediately after the picture is taken.  Some apps are trying to change that and we've started a list of some of the more promising one below. apps that are taking OCR technology to the next level,

Some OCR honorable mentions (due to low cost)
Google Translate (free)
Google Drive

*Please send us feedback on the best OCR speech to text apps out there and we can update the page.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Don's Voice

The EyeWriter

Tony 'TEMPT' Quan is a legendary LA graffiti artist, social activist, and publisher who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003. Mick organized a crew of hackers and artists to invent a low-cost, open source DIY device that would let Tempt create art with his eyes. Through trial and error, The Eyewriter was born and Tempt was back to using his creativity.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Stuff Works

Sunday, July 12, 2015