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JOSH ANDERSON: Welcome back, folks, to episode three, the conclusion of our Assistive Technology Update Holiday Show. Next week, we will be back to our normal programming. Let’s get on with the show.
[0:15] Evo Coding Robot – $99
We can’t talk about the holidays and gifts and technology without talking about the kids and our furry little friends. Nicole, you found an Evo Coding Robot?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah. He’s a neat little guy. It’s designed to get kids off screens and teach them a little bit about coding. It’s an educational tool and interactive for the kids. It’s a square robot and you can put different skins on him. I’ve seen Ironman skins and some different ones you can attach to it to give it some different looks. It has a playing field on it but you can program the guy to do little tricks. He will follow your finger around, he’ll do spins and turns and it’s just getting kids used to the idea that you can program something to do something.
Right out of the box, it will follow your finger, it has a music mode that lets you play different music notes on the box when you hit it in different spots, it has an escape mode where you try to run away from you – pretty funny. The app allows you to drive it around, it’s kind of like you would —
WADE WINGLER: A remote-controlled robot car?
BELVA SMITH: Yeah. And then you can just take blank pieces of paper and colored markers that comes with – I think it comes with four different markers – and you can color code the paper. With a specific color, you can train it to do whatever trick that it is able to do.
[1:35] Toymail Talkie – From $40
JOSH ANDERSON: Very cool. I found one that was another piece of technology. This goes back to something you talked about earlier, Nicole. It was called the Toymail Talkie. They make different kinds. They have a unicorn, a dinosaur, a shark and some other kinds of items. Essentially it’s a walkie-talkie for kids. It has a couple of buttons on the back sewn in, and they are plush and needs. You can send messages from your smart phone to your kid’s talkie. If you are a parent who is out of town a little bit or isn’t always there, you can set up with grandparents and stuff so they can send them little messages. The kids can touch a button and send messages back as well. You can set up different people, three, four different folks for it. There is no charge or anything for the service. It just connect via Wi-Fi so it is not a screen or anything like that. It makes it to where you can have the two-way communication with kids. They say it’s good for anyone three years of age or older.
BELVA SMITH: Go to bed would be a message.
JOSH ANDERSON: Yes.
WADE WINGLER: Stop it.
BELVA SMITH: Yeah, stop it.
JOSH ANDERSON: Or I could see kids taking it. Grandma, bring snacks.
BELVA SMITH: Exactly.
JOSH ANDERSON: More cookies please. I will say, if you look it up, they are available on Amazon. I think you can get it at Walmart and stuff like that. But if you look them up online, there is a cute video of them talking and telling you the different things that they do. I showed it to my wife and she already wants to get it for folks. It should be really cool.
[3:02] Cards That Talk – $17
JOSH ANDERSON: Brian, for kids who kind of want to play cards and stuff like that, can you tell me about cards that talk?
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah. For $17 – it’s a less-expensive one here.
JOSH ANDERSON: I like how you lead with that.
BRIAN NORTON: Yeah, it’s only $17. These cards use QR codes on them where you can use a camera on your smart device to be able to identify the cards. If you are blind or visually impaired and like to play cards with other folks, typically you will have braille cards. The cards will have braille on them to tell you what they are. This allows you to play cards a little bit differently. With an app on your phone and the camera on your phone, your able to scan those cards and it will tell you what they are. Then you will be able to play cards that way. Really simple, easy to use. It takes away some of the bulkiness of the cards. When you have braille on the cards themselves, it’s going to make that deck of cards pretty large, hard to shuffle, hard to handle at times. This will allow you to use traditional cards because the QR code is just a part of the card, screenprinted on there. It works really well. You can plug in your butt into your smart device so you’re not telling everybody around you what your cards are. Just a really easy way to play cards. It’s pretty cool.
JOSH ANDERSON: Can it tell you want to hold and when to fold?
WADE WINGLER: Or walk away?
BELVA SMITH: Kenny Rogers can.
WADE WINGLER: Or if you are playing with the queen of hearts?
BRIAN NORTON: They can tell you that.
WADE WINGLER: Speaking of seventies up score jukebox music
BRIAN NORTON: You can find more about these at QRspeak.com.
[4:43] Q-Ball Throwable Microphone – $179
JOSH ANDERSON: Very cool. Wade, what about the Q-Ball Throwable Microphone?
WADE WINGLER: We spend a lot of times with microphones around here, not only in our podcasting studio situation, but we do a lot of conferences and things. As I was reaching about the Q-Ball Throwable Microphone, it has a particular use in educational settings and classrooms for kids. I can’t think of the name of it, but there used to be this old traditional thing about a speaking rod or something, when in a meeting, the person had to hold a stick or a trophy or a hammer or something. That meant they were the person to talk right now and you couldn’t —
JOSH ANDERSON: A talking conch?
WADE WINGLER: Yeah! So the speaking conch or the talking conch. The person in the group could talk if they were holding the shell. This is kind of the same thing but in a more electronic way. It’s a dodgeball, a soft squishy dodgeball, that has a microphone inside. The idea is that if you have a group of people and you have a microphone or speaker system in the room, you can hook this wireless microphone into it. Whoever’s holding the ball – it has a foamy thing on the end where the microphone is, and you can speak into it. When it is time for the next person to speak, you throw the ball at them. They catch it and they talk. The thing is wirelessly transmitting to a receiver that plugs in through a headphone style Jack into your computer or your PA system or whatever kind of audio system you have in the room, and allows you to have a wireless microphone that can be done around. Not only is that good to make sure that there is amplification for someone who has a hearing challenge and needs that sort of thing, but also creates a fun environment, because you are throwing this thing back and forth which is sort of silly. But it helps direct attention so that only one person is speaking at a time. Is sort of a psychological thing that says Nicole has the throwable microphone, so it is her turn to talk and I’ll wait till she throws it to me so that it is my turn. You can learn turn-taking and amplifying. It’s all kinds of cool stuff.
They run around $150 or so. The one we looked at for the show is Q Ball, the letter “Q” and ball, or BuyQBall.com. There are some of the brands that do similar things, but these throwable mics are cool.
JOSH ANDERSON: I could think of how that could help with our full day trainings. Whenever somebody asked a question, one of us has to run over there if you’re not paying attention – like unfortunately sometimes we don’t. You are kind of behind and don’t get there. But if you just throw that to them, that would be —
BRIAN NORTON: We did order one.
JOSH ANDERSON: Sweet!
WADE WINGLER: I did notice the battery life on the one I reviewed was about 10 hours or so. The range for the wireless was about 75 feet, which is the longest range in the world for a big conference room. That something to keep in mind.
JOSH ANDERSON: But in a classroom and things like that, it would be great.
[7:19] Otsimo App – Free Version available
JOSH ANDERSON: I want to talk about the Otsimo App. We actually had the cofounder on the show a wild back. Otsimo is an app that goes on a smart phone, a tablet, something like that and could do a lot of different things. What it really is is it has a bunch of games built-in. The games can do everything from teaching emotion, letters, numbers, shapes, how to describe different things. It’s really made for kids that are on the autism spectrum. Kind of the thought behind it was a lot of these kids are already playing on tablets and using them and having an easier time interacting with those than with teachers, parents and other folks. They basically put these games to trick the kids into learning stuff. If you think about emotions, what a smiling person is and what that means, it could teach you emoji just because some people use those to talk and show emotions more than face-to-face communication these days. But it also has a full AAC device built into it. If the person does have any kinds of challenges with speaking or communication, they can use it as well. That app is free. It does have a freemium version. If you use the free version, you get the AAC device, around 12 games to play and try out. If you pay the monthly fee, which isn’t very much. I think it runs by around $13.99 a month. You can go ahead and get all 60 games. I know that they are always working on new ones. I believe the next thing they are going to start to do is having videos to show people different skills and how to interact with folks and things like that.
[8:58] Furbo WiFi Dog Cam – $199
JOSH ANDERSON: Of course we cannot forget about our dogs. Nicole, tell me about the WiFi Dog Cam.
BELVA SMITH: For the fur babies. This is funny. It’s a treat tossing device. It’s a hands-free treat tossing device. We just fill up — it’s about five inches tall and you fill it up. It will hold 100 pieces of your dogs retreats. I believe it’s through the app that you’re going to have to use it to trigger it to give your dog a treat. It has some other funny features. It has a camera on it with night vision so you can monitor your pet. It also has a two-way chat, which is nice if your dog is barking at the door and there is no reason to, you can calm them down. Your signal to the smart phone will detect if they are barking and you can look around and see if there is any reason for them to be doing that.
They also have a 90 day free trial of cloud recording and dog activity alerts, different alerts if you want to keep a diary of your dog, which might be helpful for somebody who’s Doctor having health issues and things.
JOSH ANDERSON: I think that would also help with training. We all work full-time so it’s hard in the evening between kids and everything to be able to train. If every time they walked up, you said sit, they sat down and you pop a tree out —
BELVA SMITH: Absolutely.
JOSH ANDERSON: I showed this to my wife and all she did is look at me in our big dog Apollo. She goes, I wonder how long it would be until he just ate it off the wall? I was like, yeah, probably right. We got him one of the toys that you put the treat it and they roll around, and the treats come out. Keep it in half. Took every single one of them out. He’s even kind of smarter
[10:46] Go Bone App Enabled Dog Toy – $199
JOSH ANDERSON: I found another one, the Go Bone, which is an app enabled dog toy. Basically it just looks like a dog toy bone, but it has a plastic piece that comes off the side so that it can roll around. You use an app on your phone and can steer it. You can essentially drive your dog crazy. The ends are that rubberized, the really hard rubber that dogs have a hard time tearing up. You can get replacements for those pieces so you don’t have to buy the entire device again. It is a little over $100, I do believe. You can see what the dogs are doing as far as their it to you can see how they are running and everything else. Just very cool because you can sit there and have them chase it all around the house and drive those —
BELVA SMITH: Wear them out.
JOSH ANDERSON: Exactly. Kind of to wear them out whenever you’re not there, or whatever you don’t want to get about the couch. I also think a lot of folks that have disabilities have service animals of some kind or another. I know you’ve been around when they take that best off. They are just dogs. If I have a mobility challenge, if I can use my phone, I can play with my dog now. I can let them use up some of that energy and get that out.
BRIAN NORTON: If they have a carrot toy, you can use it with your bunny.
BELVA SMITH: I was just thinking that.
BRIAN NORTON: That could make you millions of dollars, Belva.
JOSH ANDERSON: I’m pretty sure a cat would chase after this, or just run away.
BELVA SMITH: Just think about a laser pointer. We used to torment our animals with that.
JOSH ANDERSON: That will always get them.
JOSH ANDERSON: So we all have tons of different traditions around this time of year. Do you guys have a favorite holiday tradition or something you really look forward to doing?
BRIAN NORTON: You mentioned cookies before. We do cookie baking often with some friends. We will invite folks over. We take an entire afternoon, 4 to 5 hours, and we just make as many cookies and how they treat that we can. It could be pretzels dipped in chocolate or popcorn dipped in chocolate or cookies dipped in chocolate – I’m sorry.
JOSH ANDERSON: Whatever you can dip in chocolate.
BRIAN NORTON: We do lots of different cooking with friends and having fun. We love buckeyes, peanut butter dipped in chocolate. There is a theme in our family. We love chocolate.
BELVA SMITH: It’s not a holiday tradition but we always do it at our holidays. We play catch phrase. It’s something that the kids and adults play and it’s really fun. After we’ve been eating all day, we go out and stay at my uncle’s property. We go out for big family hikes through the woods. I really look forward to those two things.
WADE WINGLER: One of the things I do around this time of year is I wear a particular red suit. I play Santa for a lot of organizations and companies. Even the little town where I live, I get to go out and light the town Christmas tree on the square and all that stuff. I get pretty stoked around this time because I get to be Santa for so many people. That’s a lot of fun. I’ve talked about that on the show before.
Something new that’s a tradition that we want to start this year that we are excited about is we inherited my wife’s grandmother’s old record player. We talked before about how DVDs are like streaming video but they – so we have old LPs. We got my wife’s grandmother’s record player, which we’ve been listening to some great jazz and big-band and enjoying that as a family. We haven’t covered some of my father’s78 RPM records that are Christmas collections. We have a four album box set, 10 inch, 78 RPM of Bing Crosby singing all the Merry Christmas songs. And then we’ve got Fibber McGee and Molly performing ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, also on a box set. We plan this year to invite our friends and neighbors, have some eggnog or cider and sit around and listen to these really old got really scratchy records that were recorded in the 19 forties and listen to the old stuff. We are looking forward to trying out the new tradition.
JOSH ANDERSON: We used to do that in my grandmother’s house. What was it? Can Rogers and Dolly Parton dismiss. Really, hours just involves getting around together and eating. On Christmas Eve, we used to go over to my grandparents. Now we go to my cousin’s house. We will make homemade pizzas for lunch. Once everybody is completely stuffed on those, then we’ll have dinner. Dinner is usually a barbecue. We stay away from the normal ham and stuff like that. We go a little bit more simple especially because all we do is eat. So we watch the kids open presents and it’s always fun. I was looking forward to seeing everybody and get to be around family. That’s what I look forward to. Then on Christmas day, my mom comes over to the house. It’s very low-key. I usually just make us all breakfast and we will eat. Or I’ll make everybody a nice lunch and I do all the cooking. I make all the women stay out of my kitchen and quit trying to help me.
[16:30] Dragon Naturally Speaking 15 – $300
JOSH ANDERSON: So we were putting together this show and thinking about the holiday shopping guide. There were a couple of things that didn’t fit into any of those categories but I wanted to make sure we talk about them. These don’t really fit into any category but might be cool things or pieces of assistive technology that can help out. Sobriety, Dragon NaturallySpeaking has a new version out. I think they are up to version 15 now. For our listeners, just tell them what Dragon is, what it does, and why it’s important to have the newer version.
BRIAN NORTON: Dragon is a voice input system for the computer. It’s been around for a long time – though too long time.
BRIAN NORTON: Dragon 15 is the newest version you can you get. They’ve changed their versions and renamed what they call Dragon over the years. It’s Dragon 15 professional. We all use voice input on our mobile devices, on the computer, different things like that. A lot of the computers – if you have a Mac or Windows computer, they’ve got dictation built in. Really, I’ve been doing this for a long time and Dragon is by far the better – or the best — voice input system that you can have. It really does allow you to do quite a few things. For folks with disabilities, if you have mobility impairments, any issues with traditional keyboard or mice, is going to give you hands-free access to the computer. You can really do anything. It’s not just about putting text into the computer into an edit box or Word document or any of those things. You can then control the whole computer. You can open or close programs, navigate with a mouse, do really anything on the computer. It works a lot better. The recognition accuracy is a lot better. That’s one of those software programs that as they update, things to improve. You will see a marked improvement and how it performs when you’re using it. Definitely something to look at and to consider if you do have challenges accessing the keyboard, using a mouse. It could be a really great opportunity for you to experience the computer in a different way and to be able to use it hands-free
JOSH ANDERSON: It really is. I’ve had an opportunity to use this quite a few times with individuals. It used to be you had to have them read a lot of text off the screen and things to really get the program used to them. This one out-of-the-box does a really good job. Also Windows is changing some things. Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365, you actually need to have version 15 to be able to fully control the computer. I believe they are going to stop supporting 13, which was the one before it. I don’t believe the ever made a 14 – or if they did, it came and went faster than anyone noticed. If you’re using some of the newest stuff, it is important to have that new one.
[19:24] Polaroid Cube + – $123
JOSH ANDERSON: Nicole, can you tell me about the Polaroid Cube Plus?
BELVA SMITH: Sure. Think lifestyle camera, like a Go Pro camera. It’s an action HD camera. It records 107 minutes of video. It’s a little cube. You can throw it down on a counter or mount it to something. It’s got a helmet mount, a bike mount, a waterproof case with a suction cup mount, a tripod mount, and there is a strap for your wrist or even a monkey stand. It’s got the video recording, it also has the eight megapixel camera with 144 degree wide-angle lens. It has the image stabilization feature. It does is a microSD for storage. They are available in black, turquoise, or hot pink and will run you $123.
[20:18] Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner – $88
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s kind of fun. Wade, we are kind of out of grilling season —
WADE WINGLER: Know we aren’t.
JOSH ANDERSON: Never out of grilling season. As long as I can bundle up enough, I can stand out there by the fire.
BRIAN NORTON: He’s out there on his deck with his robe.
JOSH ANDERSON: Absolutely. We all know one of the worst parts of grilling is cleaning the grill. Every thing else is fun. Lighting it is fun, cooking on it is fun, eating is very fun. Cleaning, not as fun. You found something that can help you with that?
WADE WINGLER: Yes. There is a thing called a Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner. If you think about – if you’ve seen the Roomba vacuum cleaner, it’s kind of like that but with brass brushes for your grill. It’s a thing you can find out Amazon if you just look for Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner. It’s going to cost around $85. It’s rechargeable and you can set it for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes. You say on the grill, push go, shut the lid of the grill, and the thing just spins it little brushes and bounces and bounce around until your grill comes out clean. You leave it alone, set it and forget it, and then by the time to get out there, the grill is ready to light and get cooking your Christmas brisket or hot dogs or hamburgers or whatever you cook.
BELVA SMITH: The traditional Christmas hotdog.
BRIAN NORTON: Turducken.
WADE WINGLER: Turducken on the grill, there you go. It’s an easy way to have your grill cleaned up.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s important you mean the grill you cook on, not the one you wear in your mouth.
WADE WINGLER: I take that one out during the holiday seasons.
[21:52] Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels – $40
JOSH ANDERSON: I have a lot of problems getting out of bed in the morning. Even though I get up early, I set my cell phone across the room, I get up, I hit snooze and get back in bed. I found the Clocky, which is an alarm clock with wheels. When it goes off, the wheel start and it starts driving around the room. When it bums off things, it’ll turn around and keep going. Essentially it will run out of your bedroom going off.
BELVA SMITH: Hilarious.
JOSH ANDERSON: The thought process is instead of getting up, walking over to the dresser, hitting the button and going back to bed like I do now, I’ll have to chase this thing around the house, which is probably also going to wake up my dogs which are going to after it. Once they are up, there is no use in even trying to get back to bed. It’s not very expensive. You can buy it at quite a few places. You can go to Clocky.com, C-L-O-C-K-Y. they’ve got all kinds of colors, different uses and things like that. They start at about $40. Not real expensive. You can set different limes on them. Very simple, just two different buttons. So if you do have a problem with getting out of bed and staying out like I do, this might be a good thing to be able to help you with that.
As we wind down, we’ve talked about some of the things we love doing during the holidays, some of the neat things available. Is there something you are really looking forward to this year? It could be something you do every year, something new for this year. Is there something you are really looking forward to this year? Wade?
WADE WINGLER: We want to meet your baby.
JOSH ANDERSON: You stole mine!
BRIAN NORTON: That is true. We all want to meet the baby.
JOSH ANDERSON: That’s true. We are having a baby here very soon. By the time this goes out, she had better be here or my wife is going to be very accountable and upset. That’s definitely what I’m looking for two, is spending the first Christmas with her. What’s nice is she’ll only be a few months old, so whatever I get her this year, I plan on giving to her for the next couple of years and she won’t know.
WADE WINGLER: She will remember.
JOSH ANDERSON: It’s perfect.
WADE WINGLER: You set it across the room from her, she can’t even get it.
JOSH ANDERSON: Even better. I’ll just leave it there until next Christmas. Besides the meeting my baby, Wade, is there anything you are looking for to this year?
WADE WINGLER: That’s the big one. I guess for us – look, I have three kids. One has moved out, but I have two who are still in the house and are almost 6 and 7. They are getting to the age where they can get out and about. We live near a park and we like to go hiking. We are looking forward to a year of being outside, away from screens, learning about all kinds of good stuff and being active and soaking up some of that outdoor time. They are big enough to do that now and not be miserable the whole time. That’s the thing we’re looking for to this year.’s bill one perfect ages.
JOSH ANDERSON: Nicole?
BELVA SMITH: Just being with family. Nothing real specific, just being with family and having time off work. Just bundling in inside and doing what I want, not waking up to an alarm clock that’s chasing me around.
BRIAN NORTON: Running away from you cannot chasing you.
JOSH ANDERSON: I really hope they don’t make that one.
BRIAN NORTON: For us, I have a sophomore in high school and eighth-grader. Our sophomore is getting her license this year. We are looking forward to it. It’s going to be bittersweet a little bit. We are looking for to a little bit more freedom with her, for her to be able to get where she wants to go. That’s definitely one. Always vacations. My wife loves to plan one vacation ahead, so we have a vacation planned and are already planning the next one. We keep the on a wall. Just getting away, having family time, spending time with the folks that you love. That’s definitely the biggest one on our list.
JOSH ANDERSON: Very cool. I can’t wait to celebrate holidays with all of you, at least a little bit of time that we are actually here, not outside of work.
We hope all of you out there have a wonderful holiday as well. Thank you again for tuning in today and thank you for being part of the show.
BRIAN ANDERSON: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? If you do, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Are you looking for a transcript or show notes? Head on over to our website at www.EasterSealsTech.com. Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. For more shows like this, plus so much more, head over to AccessibilityChannel.com. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easter Seals Crossroads, or any of our supporting partners. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
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