ATU288 – 2016 Holiday Shopping Episode – Part 2


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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

288-12-02-16 – Holiday Shopping Episode – part 2
Panel: Wade Wingler, Brian Norton, Nikol Prieto, Josh Anderson
Gift ideas:
Smart Klean Laundry Ball –
Liftware –
Intact Sketch Pad –
Mpow Bluetooth Adapter
Christmas Suits –
Oculus Rift –
Reminder Rosie –
Blue2 Bluetooth Switch Adapter –
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——-transcript follows —

Happy Holidays from the Assistive Technology Center at Easter Seals Crossroads. This is your Assistance Technology Update.

WADE WINGLER:  Hi, I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana. Welcome to number 288 of assistive technology update. Today we break from our normal format of news, interviews, and talking about apps related to assistive technology to bring you the second part, part two, of our sixth annual holiday assistive technology shopping episode. We’re going to jump right back into where we left the conversation from last week.


WADE WINGLER:  We still have some stuff to talk about here, a lot of different assistive technology ideas. Brian, I know you have one that is interesting. What’s next on your list?

BRIAN NORTON:  The next one on my list is the Smart Klean Laundry Ball. Uses natural earth minerals and magnets to clean laundry without detergent. Instead of the chemical process that detergents use, it uses natural minerals and magnets within a plastic ball. You throw that in your washer, don’t have to put the detergent in there at all, and it cleans your laundry naturally. You can imagine if it does a good job – and I’ve heard it does do a good job. We have a person on staff who has been using it for a little while. Quite frankly his clothes look clean to me.

BELVA SMITH:  I’ve been close to him and he doesn’t smell.

BRIAN NORTON:  I think it does work pretty well. You can use it for up to 365 washes. It’s $35. There are other versions of it. If you go on, you can look up the Smart Klean laundry Ball and there are several other knockoffs or companies that are doing similar things with this natural mineral and magnet in a plastic ball that cleaned your laundry. I think what a great way to save money, be eco-friendly.

WADE WINGLER:  Less lifting and pouring of detergent and all that stuff. Plus, like me, if you be changing your pockets all the time, those magnets will start them up and you’d get the extra change of the laundry Ball.

BRIAN NORTON:  It’s pretty fascinating.

WADE WINGLER:  Interesting, now I want to try it. Nicole, what’s going on with your next item?

NIKOL PRIETO:  First of all, I think it’s my duty to say we also have a Tech Tip on that Smart Klean Ball.

WADE WINGLER:  Nice cross promotion here for our tech tip videos.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I know Christmas and the holidays, my very favorite thing to do is eat. I’m fortunate that all of my family does the cooking. I bring a pecan pie and that is the only thing I’m obligated to do.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Is that homemade?

NIKOL PRIETO:  It is. I don’t make the crust.

BRIAN NORTON:  Maybe this year that could be a challenge:  make the crust.

WADE WINGLER:  Make the crust.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Let’s not get carried away. We are going to try to make peppermint. Has anyone ever made the permit candy canes?


WADE WINGLER:  Know. I’ve grown peppermint in the yard but it never turned into anything.

NIKOL PRIETO:  We are going to try to make the candy canes at home ourselves. That could go horribly wrong. I’ll get back and report to you on that. Eating, that’s what a lot of people love to do. When you think about people who have hand tremors, they might have difficulties with utensils. We have this thing in the lab, so I’ve been able to see it, called Liftware. It’s a device that has attachments with a fork and spoon and soup spoon. It has a sensor and it cut a computer and motor, so when your hand start to tremor, it counteracts that movement so you are able to keep the food. It’s about $195 so it is expensive. It comes with a beginning kit and has the charging cradle, a storage pouch, and the soup spoon attachment. You can also get the fork attachment and spoon additional and add that on to it. It holds about one tablespoon of liquids. That’s pretty cool for anyone who has tremors in their hands.

WADE WINGLER:  There has to be a tie-in between what Brian just talked about about the laundry thing and getting stains out of your clothes and this special spoon.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I had not even thought about that.

BRIAN NORTON:  You may not even need to do laundry if the food is staying on the spoon.

WADE WINGLER:  Josh, what’s next on your list?

JOSH ANDERSON:  I was going to talk about the impact sketchpad, a cross promotion. I believe Laura who does accessibility minute did a segment on this item as well. It can be a good gift especially for kids who maybe are blind or low vision. What it is, is it is a sketch plat that you can draw, erase, but as you draw on it, it actually becomes tactile. If you draw a person, it will raise it up so you can feel what you’re drawing. They can be helpful especially if you want to play a game of hangman, tic-tac-toe, anything like that. You can feel the board and where everything is. It starts off at $125 but I found it on a few different sites. Where they may get you is you need an eraser, and the eraser is $150. I did find a bundle on a different site but you can get for $250 for the entire thing. That should be such a completely up. That’s on You can find it on there. Very cool just because you actually draw, and everything you draw is there so that everything you draw you can feel it. If you are blind or low vision, it makes it to where you can express yourself through art and feel exactly what it is you’re doing.

WADE WINGLER:  Tactile graphics are hard to come by in a lot of situations. They never have been inexpensive to produce. Even though we are talking about a couple of hundred dollars to make this happen, I think that might be the right answer to get those tactile graphics and images to you.

JOSH ANDERSON:  It’s not a bad price point when you look at some of the other things out there to do it.

WADE WINGLER:  The thing I want to talk about in this segment ties into what Nicole talked about in another segment with regard to the iPhone 7. Recently my old iPhone 6 pooped out and I had to go and get the new iPhone 7 Plus. It’s fast and I like it. One of the things I struggle with was the fact that – and you know this – it doesn’t have a headphone jack. In addition to being someone who does podcasts, I listen to a lot of podcasts too. It’s real common for me in the morning on my commute and in the evening commutes to plug my phone into power so that I recharge the battery and also plug it into the 3.5 millimeter auxiliary port on my car so I can listen to a podcast or music or whatever. When I got this new iPhone, I started my day and went and started to plug in my phone to charge it and realized there is no headphone jack on the phone. They give you an adapter so that is not a big deal. I plug the adapter into the lightning port on my phone and plug in the auxiliary port in my car and started to listen and realized, wait a minute, I want to charge the battery at the same time. You can’t plug into the lighting adapter to charge and also the headphone jack because there is not one there. I started looking for some solutions and did research. What I ended up with was a thing called Mpow Bluetooth Adapter. It’s called a stream bot. It’s about $14 – and this is on Amazon Prime, so it was $14 delivered. It’s basically a battery operated device that plugs right into any headphone jack or auxiliary port. What I ended up doing was charging this device up, plugging it into the auxiliary port on my car, and when I fired up my iPhone I said connect via Bluetooth to this stream bot thing. It started streaming via Bluetooth just like it would to Bluetooth speakers or headsets or anything else, but it is plugged right into the aux port on my car. Now for $14, which is not something I wanted to spend money on, but I’m really pleased with how well it works. There are a lot of them out there, by the way. This particular one is pretty smart because, if you get out of your car, it knows you’re not connected to it and shuts itself off so the battery doesn’t sit there and drain. When you get back in your car – and they don’t all do this – I hit a button on the dongle and it turned on and reconnect automatically to my iPhone so I don’t have to re-pair it. Apparently there are some out there that lose their pairing every time you turn on your phone or turn it off. I wasn’t thrilled to have to have the solution, but in the end it turned out to be a handy one. At $13.99 delivered, at least at the time of this recording, I think I might be buying a few of those to have around for the different speakers and old-fashioned headphones that I want to be able to plug into and those kinds of things. It’s called the Mpow Bluetooth Adapter Streambot.


WADE WINGLER:  We talked a little bit about gifts and families. One of the things I know is a big part of the holiday is tradition. We all have holiday traditions, and we’ve covered those a little bit. I’m wondering if any of us have any non-traditional traditions, things you don’t exactly see in a Norman Rockwell Christmas card or things that have become a tradition in your family that people would normally think of as a holiday tradition. Brian, do you have anything like that in your world?

BRIAN NORTON:  We do. Four or five years ago, we stopped giving gifts. In our family we give experiences. We look for creative ways – I think last year my brother and sister-in-law gave us a gift card to this restaurant downtown where – it’s not really a restaurant. There is a cook who will make dinner in front of you, so you and some guess you have at that particular meal would be able to come out and he makes a gourmet meal in front of you, talks about it, serves it to you. This year I mentioned that we are headed to Panama City. That’s going to be an experience. We have enough stuff in our lives. Instead of just more junk in the playroom are the kinds of things, we just wanted to start, let’s spend time with each other instead of digging into gifts. That’s kind of our non-tradition tradition.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s cool. Nicole?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I love the idea. I’m having a hard time. I think something strange I do in life in general is I love scary movies. Halloween was my big time and I love horror movies. I watch scary holiday movies. I think that’s pretty nontraditional tradition. A lot of people don’t like them, but I love scary movies.

WADE WINGLER:  Give me a title, an example of a scary holiday movie. Santa Claus and the chainsaw?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Around Christmas, thanks, movies – you know how people watch diehard and is not really particularly a Christmas movie. I’ll just be seeking out new ones every year.

WADE WINGLER:  You can go back to a classic like gremlins. There are some scary holiday scenes.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I watched the traditional Christmas movies as well.

BRIAN NORTON:  Home alone is what you’re thinking about, right?

NIKOL PRIETO:  That’s a little scary.

WADE WINGLER:  If you’re like my wife, Home Alone sounds good. Some quiet time without the buzz and all the kids. Maybe that’s not so scary after all. Josh, do you have anything unusual?  A non-traditional tradition you do?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Growing up, before my grandmother passed away, we would go over and the great the Christmas tree. On Christmas eve we would show up early. She would hide an ornament in the tree. If you found it, you got a car or something like that. Growing up, I never thought anything about it or thought it was weird or different or anything like that until I realized that the ornament was a pickle.

BRIAN NORTON:  We do that with my wife’s parents.

JOSH ANDERSON:  I didn’t realize until also getting older that you could actually buy the pickle ornament. I see it at different places. Other people did this to!

WADE WINGLER:  We have a pickle ornament on our tree as well.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Where on earth does this come from?

BRIAN NORTON:  It’s a German tradition, I believe.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Is that it?  I never heard of that. I have heard of the German tradition of putting a rod in a child but if they are bad. I’m thinking about instilling that. It’s a Crampus thing. The put a boot out by their door. If you are bad you got a rod.

BRIAN NORTON:  Instead of coal in your stocking you got a rod in a boot. Interesting.

WADE WINGLER:  I have never heard of that before.

NIKOL PRIETO:  And a pickle. And all three of you knew this?

WADE WINGLER:  When we put up our Christmas tree, but the pickle where I don’t think anybody would be able to find it. We do that every year and have been doing it for years.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Do they get gifts?

WADE WINGLER:  No, we are cheap in our house.

JOSH ANDERSON:  These were little tiny cars.

WADE WINGLER:  Like a matchbox car?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Yeah, a little matchbox car. The thing over a dollar. Even as you get older, they are so fun to get.

NIKOL PRIETO:  The OCD person in me just thinks of people digging around in my Christmas tree and messing up things.

JOSH ANDERSON:  That does happen.

BRIAN NORTON:  You have to be creative. Hide it well.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s interesting. For holiday traditions for us, we are in that phase of life where we are creating more traditions. We had a big, extended family and we lost a lot of people in the last few years. We are still trying to figure out what the newer tradition look like. The only one that comes to mind for me as a tradition. Traditionally at Christmas, people are going to have a turkey or a ham or something like that. We have fallen on brisket in the last few years. I make me a pretty mean brisket. It’s becoming a tradition because people are saying, are you going to bring a brisket to Christmas when you come?  I think that that’s one we are going to do. The other one – at the time the show releases, we will be passed things giving. The thinking Day parade is a big tradition for us on this sitting morning. That’s not a nontraditional tradition; that’s just a tradition I’m looking forward to.

NIKOL PRIETO:  And the dog show.

WADE WINGLER:  The dog show!

NIKOL PRIETO:  That’s the best. I just love it.

WADE WINGLER:  Everyone watches the dog show.


WADE WINGLER:  We are back with another segment of holiday assistive technology gift ideas. Brian, you’re up.

BRIAN NORTON:  My next holiday gift idea is why not deck yourself out – not the tree or the hallway or the banisters in your house. Deck yourself out for the holidays by getting a holiday suit with a blazer, tie, matching pants, a belt, a shirt, all those things. Last year, I think for Fourth of July, I had a friend who showed up in these Americans flag pants. I was like, those are the coolest things ever to celebrate Fourth of July. Low and behold, Christmas comes along. In my Facebook feed I see these things for a company called You can go in there and they have a whole host of holiday suits that you can purchase. It’s a blazer, matching tie, pants, belt, and they all match. You can dress herself up as a Christmas tree, look like wrapping paper, all of these different kinds of things. I just love it. It’s not that expensive. It’s $100 for an entire suit. Quite frankly I’m considering using it for coming to our holiday luncheon.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Looking at it now, it’s so awesome.

BRIAN NORTON:  They are so cool.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I’m really excited. I don’t know how you’re going to choose one. It reminds me of taking the ugly Christmas sweater to a whole new level.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s exactly what it is, ugly Christmas sweaters made into suits.

BRIAN NORTON:  What better way to celebrate the holidays than getting all dressed up and really showing your Christmas spirit?

WADE WINGLER:  And look like wrapping paper.

BRIAN NORTON:  You could be the greatest gift ever to someone special in your life.

WADE WINGLER:  I feel compelled to warn your wife. Mrs. Norton, here’s what you need to brace herself for.

BRIAN NORTON:  That’s right.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s great. Nicole, let’s move on.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I don’t know how to top that. That something special, is all I can say about that. I’m going to talk about something really cool and I think people have been seeing commercials lately for virtual-reality stuff. It’s another thing we have that I’ve gone to experience here in our assistive technology lab. It’s the Oculus Rift. They are virtual-reality glasses. When I went in there, I put them on and it had me on this skyscraper and immerses you into the environment. I honestly had to tell myself that I wasn’t really on there. It’s very disorienting at first where it feels so real. You get 360 degree view of anything you put on the screen. I know one of the displays we had where you are in a museum and huge dinosaurs are running over you, or you can be on a skyscraper. This is cool for people who can’t go somewhere, can’t climb something, can’t do an activity and can experience that. People who like to game – I know it’s big in the gaming world. Something fun, gives people a social outlet who might be homebound or just a way to get out and experience things.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent. Josh?

JOSH ANDERSON:  I’m going to talk about the Reminder Rosie. It looks like a pretty regular alarm clock with a large display. What it can do is remind you for all different kinds of things. You can set it up to remind you to take medication, to take the bus, to get up and go to work and be on time for podcasts, those kinds of things. Something extra can do is its voice activated. Like we had talked about the Amazon echo and those things earlier. Some things are becoming more able to work on your voice. You can say, Hello, Reminder Rosie. That’ll wake it up and you can tell it different things, what are my reminders today, set the time, change the alarm, what time is it, what day is it, what can I say, all different kinds of commands you can put through it. It can help folks with all kinds of disabilities. It’s made for folks with dementia or Alzheimer’s to help them to remember to take their medication or did you today, did you do this, these kinds of things. It’s pretty simple to set up. Reading about it, it does say if it is for a parent with dementia, it would help if you help them set it up and show them some of the commands and help them a little bit. They don’t ever have to access anything once you set up those alarms and alerts. You can have them show up every day, every week, or however you want to set it up. I don’t remover where I read it, I believe it can hold up to 25 different alerts and alarms, six seconds each reminder. It is a little bit expensive. It runs about $100. If those are settings you definitely need, especially if folks can’t access the small buttons, they can sit and talk to it. It can really help folks with a lot of different things. You can order it from Amazon, other sellers.

One other thing while you are shopping this season, if you are shopping on Amazon, if you do, you can pick it different charities. They have tons of ones on there. If you order through them, you can still use your prime membership, all the prices stay the same, but a portion of everything you buy goes to the charity that you pick. It’s a nice way to give back while you are doing the shopping you are already going to be doing.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s good. It’s a handy thing. The device I want to talk about is not really new but I think it’s a perennial favorite. It’s the Blue2 Bluetooth Switch from AbleNet. It’s been around for a while. You can get it at The cost about $185. The deal with the Bluetooth is it’s sort of a universal Bluetooth switch adapter for iOS devices, for a Windows computer, for Google Chrome devices or android devices. We have this Bluetooth protocol that allows us to wirelessly connect to all kinds of technology. For folks who have physical challenges, mobility impairments, and really rely on single switch access or double switch access to different devices, it really is a good solid way to give those folks that kind of access. If somebody is getting the new iPad for Christmas or a new computer or a new android phone or whatever, and you want to have assistive technology access to it or switch access to it, the Blue2 is the way to go. They have updated it a little bit. It’s got a rechargeable battery, takes less pressure to activate the built in axonal switches that are there, also has a couple of extra switch jacks. The Bluetooth switch itself has a white paddle and sort of a yellow paddle you can use to do switch access. You can also plug in through the 3.5 millimeter switch axonal jacks and connect any kind of switch that you want. With the increased accessibility of android and iOS and Windows, I think it’s worth calling out to say if you have anybody in your life who is a switch user and there are electronic devices like iPads and iPhones and android’s, that would be a great way to increase independence and give more access to that stuff. Again, it’s about $185. The Blue2 Bluetooth Switch from


WADE WINGLER:  As we wrap up, we’ve covered a whole lot of technology. I’ve got one more question I want to go around the room with as we bring this sixth annual holiday shopping show to a close. My question is, as we are going into the holiday season, what do you want the season to be about and why?  Brian, we started with you so I’m going to look to you to give us some insight. What do you want the season to be about?  Why?

BRIAN NORTON:  I tried to think of a couple of words that would capture it for me. One is rest, really big one for me. Thankfulness as well. I think we all get caught up with what I refer to as the business sickness where life just takes over, you don’t have a whole lot of time to sit and think and process and that kind of stuff. I’m hopeful. I mentioned I’m taking the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. I believe our agency is close to that we can everybody is doing that. Hopefully there is time in and amongst the business that the holidays bring with gifts and family and all those kinds of things, that can get quite overwhelming. Sometimes I get to the end of it and it’s like, that was quick.

WADE WINGLER:  Go back to work to rest.

BRIAN NORTON:  I just hope you find a little bit of time to rest and think about the things that I’m thankful for. There is a lot.

WADE WINGLER:  Nicole, what do you want the season to be about?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Peace comes to mind. My daughter is hitting that “tween” stage and we are really doing a lot of mother-daughter figuring out what those changes mean in our lives as far as what she can do and she wants to be a little more grown than she is. It’s been a tough year for us in seventh grade and those changes. Quality time, peace, really reiterating getting off cell phones and spending time with family. That’s been a big point of contention in our family and appreciating our family and everything everyone does for us and all the support. Peace and family.

WADE WINGLER:  Josh, what do you want the season to be about?

JOSH ANDERSON:  Not to completely steal yours, but I have to say family, being able to take time, disconnect, slow down and be able to really enjoy that time with family. Along with Nicole, peace. It’s been a tumultuous year for everyone in the United States. It would be nice if everyone could take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on what makes us the same as opposed to what makes us different and hope for the best and work together to make everything better.

WADE WINGLER:  I couldn’t agree more. I hope for the season is the same. The words that come to mind for me are grace and hope. As a person of faith, the holidays mean particular things to me. I think grace is a fairly universal concept that we could all benefit from. At times like this in our political season with what’s happening with world events, I think hope is something that we need. My plan and what I want for the season is to try to think about grace and hope and how we can share those with everybody.

Guys, this is been a lot of fun. I can’t believe this is our sixth year in a row with doing this kind of holiday shopping show. We will come back next week with our regular format of news and interviews and sharing what’s happening in the world of assistive technology. We really like to take this break from our attritional format of once a year, celebrate the holidays, celebrate each other, and talk about where assistive technology fits into all of that. I would like to wish everybody the happiest of holidays, the merriest of Christmases, and we will see you guys in the new year.

Brian, did you want to wish everyone a happy holiday?

BRIAN NORTON:  I do. Happy holidays, everyone. Thanks for joining us.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Merry Christmas, and a happy new year.

JOSH ANDERSON:  Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for listening.

WADE WINGLER:  Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.

***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi.  For transcription requests and inquiries, contact***


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