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.
Dimitris Petotos – CEO – Laddroller
Laddroller on Youtube: https://bit.ly/3UfyS2Z
More on Bridging Apps Visit:
CES Story: https://engt.co/47JVThm
If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out our web site: http://www.eastersealstech.com
Follow us on Twitter: @INDATAproject
Like us on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/INDATA
Hi, this is Architect Dimitris Petotos and this is your Assistive Technology update.
Hello and welcome to your Assistive Technology update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project that Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 661 of Assistive Technology Update, it is scheduled to be released on January 26th, 2024.
Today’s show, we are super excited to learn more about Laddroller, kind of a whole new way to ambulate in a whole new kind of new idea for a wheelchair, and we can’t wait to hear a whole lot more about it. We also welcome back Amy Berry from Bridging Apps with an app worth mentioning and look at another story coming out of CES or the Consumer Electronic Show with some really cool new accessibility devices and assistive technology coming out of the show.
Don’t forget, listeners, if you ever do want to reach us, if you’ve got an idea for someone we should interview, something we should talk about on the show, a suggestion, a question, a comment, any of those are perfect. You can call our listener line at 317 721 7124 or send us an email at Tech at EastersealsCrossroads.org. But for now, let’s go ahead and get on with the show and we’ll start off with Amy Berry from Bridging Apps with an app worth mentioning. Take it away, Amy.
This is Amy Berry with Bridging Apps and this is an app worth mentioning. This week’s featured app is Spotify. Spotify is a music and podcast app that allows you to search and create playlists of your favorite music and podcasts, or you can search from preloaded playlists based on mood or your taste of music. There’s a free version of Spotify with ads and limited features, but if you upgrade to the premium version, you can listen ad-free offline and it gives you other features such as unlimited song skips, the ability to play any song without listening on shuffle. The first three months of Spotify premium are free and then it’s 10.99 a month. They do offer discounts for students, families, and kids. A Spotify gift card makes a great gift or stocking stuffer. The Spotify app is currently available for iOS and Android devices. For more information on this app and others like it visit Bridgingapps.org
Folks, it’s another Friday in January. So let’s talk about some of the other cool things that are coming out from CES, the Consumer Electronic show that wrapped up earlier this month in Las Vegas. So as we said last show, there’s all kinds of new accessibility and assistive technology that gets introduced at CES. Some of it ends up kind of making it mainstream. Some of it takes a little bit of time, but we’re always excited to hear what people are working on. So today our article comes to us from over at Engadget.com and it’s titled Our favorite Accessibility Innovations at CES 2024. It’s written by Sherilyn Lowe and she starts off by talking about the GyroGlove.
It says here, “The GyroGlove was recognized as an honoree for several CES innovation awards.” Says that the device is a hand-stabilizing glove, it uses a gyroscopic force to help those with hand tremors minimize the shakes. Now, I’ve kind of seen some devices like this before that can usually help folks maybe with Parkinson’s or other kinds of tremor really be able to do some kind of fine motor control style tasks. So it actually says here that the writer spoke with a person with Parkinson’s disease at the booth and they said that using the GyroGlove helped them perform task like buttoning up a shirt.
So if you think of all the little fine motor control you have to do to manipulate a button, get it in the button hole, push it through and get all those, it takes some very fine motor control and individuals with tremors could really have challenges with that. So pretty cool, it does say that it looks like the cost is going to be close to $6,000, so I’m not 100% sure if that is something that might be able to be covered by insurance for individuals, but I suppose if it’s a thing that meets the need that can always really help or hopefully maybe that’s something that if it does come to market, the cost can really come down.
The next thing they talk about is the mouth pad and the mouth pad kind of fits in your mouth, kind of like a retainer sort of. Behind the teeth and everything like that. And it is a tongue-operated controller for phones, tablets, and laptops or really pretty much anything that can accept a Bluetooth mouse input. It says the components include a touchpad mounted onto the pallet of what is essentially a retainer, as well as a battery and a Bluetooth radio. It says the device itself is made of kind of medical-grade thing. So I mean, putting a battery in your mouth might be something you’re kind of against a little bit, but it’s made from the same company that makes medical-grade implants. So if you think of things with batteries that are implanted into the body, the same kind as that.
Also says that the resin used to make it is what’s commonly used in aligners and bite guards. So it’s already made to kind of be in the mouth, but if you really think this is great, it says here, “This could really help individuals who aren’t able to maybe use their limbs because the tongue as a muscle can offer a much more precise movement than your eyes or maybe some other things that folks are using.” Also could just be another tool in the toolbox. Some folks, it’s not just one piece that they need to access their devices, access the world around them, be successful in school work, whatever it is that they’re trying to kind of accomplish. Having another access method can really help individuals be able to do stuff.
So the mouthpad is pretty cool. Definitely something I don’t think we’ll have in the loan library here at Easterseals Crossroads in the INDATA project just because that’s something we probably don’t want to loan out to a lot of folks. I don’t want to put it in my mouth after knowing somebody else has been using it. Maybe something we can definitely try out and I look forward to get to see it.
The next thing we talk about on the article here is the OrCam here. Now we talked about it last week, so we are just going to go over that, but of course as always, I will put a link down in the show notes so that you can go back and check these things out for yourself. The next product that they talk about is something called Audio Radar. So gaming, as we know is a big thing. You have gaming teams showing up at colleges and universities and kind of everywhere. There’s even a push at National Easterseals in here at Easterseals Crossroads to kind of help individuals with disabilities find a community, build a community and be able to game with each other.
So this Audio Radar, what it does is it helps turn sound signals into visual cues so that gamers with hearing loss can see that sound. So game developers and gaming sounds very important. It not only sets the mood, kind of gets you more immersed in the game. It also lets you know when there’s an enemy or something coming up behind you or to your side or at the top or the bottom depending on the layout of everything.
So the idea behind this, behind the Audio Radar is it’s a box that’ll plug into your gaming console and that has a series of light bars that go around your screen and basically whatever area or space that sound is coming from will then highlight with those lights so that there’s a sound coming. The box actually interprets the sound and what that code is and then sends that information to those lights so there’s a sound coming from the top the side or kind of wherever. So very cool idea. We’ve heard something about this maybe not way in the past, but I’ve heard about something like this before, to be able to help folks who may have some hearing loss or may be hard of hearing, be able to easily kind of access these components of a game while they’re playing. So super-duper cool.
And then the last one they have here is a Transcribe Glass. So we’ve talked about some of these different ones kind of overtime, but the idea is this kind of looks like the old school Google Glass, so it is a little device that will attach to any pair of glasses and essentially just to have captions that come up and this could do a few things. Of course, this can help individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing have transcriptions of their conversations, but it’s also able to convert foreign languages.
So if you’re talking to somebody who does not speak your native language right away, you can actually have those transcripts come up in your native language. So it can really help with communication, not just for folks who are deaf and hard of hearing, but also individuals who maybe are kind of traveling or again, just somewhere where most folks maybe don’t speak their native language or they’re communicating with somebody who doesn’t speak their native language. They can actually have those transcriptions kind of come up.
One thing that’s really cool here is as the company’s targeting the years end for a launch and hoping to offer the device for a 199 dollars, so that would be very cool, make it actually a little bit accessible. I know there’s some other kind of products coming out with these different things, which is really great because it’s always good to have options on there.
If there’s just one device that does it, then the market can kind of allow them to change the price and manipulate that as they kind of want. Not saying that they always do, but it’s always just great to have choices because what works for one individual may not work for others. It does say that one challenge on here is even though you’re able to resize the font and everything, it is quite small, but it is very light, very adjustable, and I’m sure that some of those things will be fixed and kind of worked through.
The very last thing that they do put on here a little bit is some things that they didn’t get to see as a demo, but some things that were mentioned. So Samsung, they’re changing some subtitle accessibility features, and these include a sign language feature in the Samsung Neo QLED that can be easily controlled with gestures for individuals who might be hard of hearing.
Also, it looks like they’re also trying to build in an audio subtitle feature. So what this would do is when subtitles pop up, it will automatically speak those back in real time. So if I’m an individual with low vision who’s watching a show, anytime that subtitles might pop up, it’ll have those kind of red backs. So kind of opposite closed captioning for individuals visual impairment. So very cool. So I’ll put a link to this over in the show notes with just some other really cool accessibility things coming out of CES. So go check that out over in the show notes.
Also, if you’ve heard of some cool things coming out of CES, maybe you were there, maybe you’ve just heard of them, maybe you’ve read about them somewhere, please, please do reach out and share those. Remember, you can email us anytime at Tech, at Eastersealscrossroads.org. Listeners, we don’t get to talk a whole heck of a lot about wheelchairs on this show, but this week we are making a very big exception to learn about something very, very exciting. We are very excited to welcome Dimitris on the show and he’s going to tell us all about Laddroller, a new way to ambulate around.4 Dimitris, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me today. I appreciate it.
Yeah, I am so excited to get into kind of talking about Laddroller and all the cool things that it can do. But before we do that, can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Sure. I actually, I love building things that people all over the world use and I am lucky to be able to work for a living at what I love doing. I am [inaudible 00:12:20]. I am an architect by training with specialization in industrial design and novel architecture, and I am also the inventor of Laddroller, the Shape-Shifting Wheelchair, which is an assistive device that can help users to stand up instantly.
And let’s dig into that a little bit. So I guess, let’s kind of start from the beginning. Where did the idea for Laddroller come from?
As an architect, I build houses for a living. I create homes that people live in and they love each other. So when a client of mine after a terrible car crash, she had asked me to remodel her house in order to meet her new needs, a house that I had built for her a couple of years earlier. I took it as a challenge, lowering, the light switches and the kitchen cabinets wasn’t a tricky job after all. Creating spaces under the sink or in the wardrobe in order to have your wheelchair fit in make the whole house accessible was easy.
What I didn’t realize at that time was that I was creating a true nightmare for the other members of the family, a totally inaccessible house for them. The light switches were awkwardly low and as was the sink and everything, that house was strangely placed. That was for me the light bulb moment. What if instead of lowering everything in the environment of the house, we could make those people stand up anytime they wanted to reach a book on the top shelf and have them enjoy also their life outside of their house. We can’t lower the whole world, but we can make them stand and look their loved ones in the eye. This is the little story behind the birth of blood roller and some buttons later and some tens of prototypes and tons of coffee. We fast-forward to today.
Oh yeah, it always does kind of take that, but I always love to find out kind of where the ideas came from. So let’s go on and move into Laddroller itself. What is it, I know it’s able to help and move and get folks up, but how does it accomplish these things?
We have developed a simple yet elegant solution for immobility, a device that it’s amongst the best one in the world. It is a hybrid between an exoskeleton and a wheelchair. We have managed to elevate user by making use of the motion of the wheels. When the two sets of wheels come closer to each other, the whole geometry of the wheelchair changes and the user stands up instantaneously. Laddroller is four wheel drive and thanks to the placement of the bigger wheels in the front, it is able to overcome obstacles without the need of a ramp. It is a very lightweight device that gives those types of people the ability to travel in the standing position as well. The mobility device that tens of millions worldwide will absolutely love.
That is awesome. I know that it’s kind of battery powered. Let’s say that I’m out and I’m using it and the battery would kind of run out, I know it’s kind lightweight and everything, am I still able to move around and ambulate even if I don’t have power?
Sure. It is one of the peculiarities of Laddroller. It is four by four device. It has a motor in each hub of the wheels, but those motors have a neutral position as well. So if in case of the batteries runs low when you are outside or even when you are standing, you can always return to the sitting position and ambulate by the motion, with the power by your hands, like a normal manual wheelchair.
I know you mentioned it could handle some varied terrain. Elaborate on that a little bit. Kind of what kind of, I guess, bumps and things is it able to get over?
Sure. When you’ve placed the bigger wheels in the front, it is an old design in the wheelchair industry that it was abandoned some decades ago, but putting the bigger wheels in the front, it gives you the advantage to climb over a sidewalk, let’s say. It’s like driving a mountain bike on rough terrain. You have total control using the bigger wheels in the front and additionally placing omni-wheels in the rear instead of caster wheels, we have the ability to steer without the problematics of those little wheels like the supermarket carts have with the minimal obstacle, they turn 90 degrees and they get stuck. So this is why Laddroller can operate with a rougher terrain and be an outdoor device.
Dimitris, what phase of development are you currently in with Laddroller?
We are entering manufacturing in a couple of months. Right now, we are fine-tuning some details regarding the seating materials and we are confident that at the end of March we will launch a Kickstarter campaign with 200 devices available for people to test and start a worldwide trial program for them. These days we are in discussions with one of the top players in micro-mobility in Europe because they are very interested in including Laddroller in their own network of devices in the open in hundreds of cities worldwide. This will be integration of Laddroller on the fleet of their own bicycles and scooters, the rental ones and the people with disabilities could just use Laddroller with their families and their loved ones just for a stroll in the park or some brief walk with their loved ones without having to own Laddroller or having to use it every day.
Nice. That’ll be wonderful. Yeah, then folks can not only just try it out, but if they need it for that kind of thing or if access is maybe a little bit harder with their device or if their device maybe they use at home isn’t quite as transportable, they can still go with family and be able to participate. That is absolutely awesome. I’m sure kind of in your development phase and everything, you’ve probably had some folks try it out or maybe kind of, “Oh, just test it a little bit,” as you’re working and working on the prototypes and different models, what was some of the feedback or maybe a story of someone is experienced trying out Laddroller?
As a matter of fact, one of the first prototypes goes out of order and we were working some details about the fastening of the people of the user on the chair. Once I explained it was a little kid, like 16 years old, and the moment she stood up, she started crying and I didn’t understood what, I couldn’t understand why she was crying, but I thought that something was caught her finger or something and she was in pain, but it was actually crying from happiness with all that instant motion of standing up.
Well, and I think you kind of said it best at the beginning, talking about adapting the house and you can’t adapt the entire world at the same time. So I love that this device actually gives the user the ability to just adapt that device to the world around them for whatever their needs might be. And even, I know for some folks, just the eye to eye to communication, if you’re talking to a group of folks, if you’re eye to eye with them and kind of up and able, it really just facilitates communication so much better and it makes it so much easier to just be a part of… I don’t know. The things that I guess you and I, and a lot of folks just take for granted on a daily basis.
Exactly. If you look around you, there are innumerable sections in everyday’s life. These people are excluded from just because they are seated actions that you need take for granted. More specifically, people with disability face serious health complications because of their sedentary life. They suffer from most of the process. They have circulation and respiration problems. They even die from heart diseases and infections.
For these reasons, they have to regularly attend sessions of viscerotherapy and rehabilitation in order to get the mobility they need or just to stand up because the human body is designed to do so. On the other hand, motor disability causes psychological side effects. People with disabilities have lost their autonomy. They often struggle to socialize, and the most important, they have lost eye contact with others, and this is why we are building the Laddroller, to mitigate all those problems and give to those challenged people an elevated quality of life.
Nice. And I know you mentioned it’s kind of a lighter weight device. Is it able to be kind of folded or moved in a vehicle pretty easily?
First of all, it is a modular device. You can take off the wheels, take off the batteries, and also the wheels have the motors incorporated on the hubs. So the total weight of the device is, you can have it in different pieces, so it’s easily portable in the trunk even of a medium car. And this way you can extend your radius and you can go a trip with your family and enjoy life in a radius away from home. The final assembly of the device is fun and easy the way IKEA furniture is assembled, and it can be put together in a matter of minutes, even by the most unexperienced, in case though someone would like to have a ready to use the Laddroller delivered, we have stipulated with DHL, a unique delivery option directly and anywhere in the world.
Nice. So you’re making it not just an accessible device, but accessible to get to build and to-
Also for the ownership, exactly.
Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I feel like that’s where the breakdown comes. So that is great that you can get it already assembled or kind of like you said, and I must admit I cringed a little bit because I’ve had some IKEA furniture that was not as easy as others, but I’m very glad to hear that folks can actually do that. A loved one, a family member or friend could definitely help them get it all put together. So that is awesome. Well, for our listeners who want to find out more about Laddroller, what’s a great way for them to do that?
Your listeners could find the information about Laddroller on our website, which is Laddroller.com and also on our LinkedIn page because most of the new information we posted on LinkedIn first, and we also have some videos on YouTube, on our channels, on YouTube that illustrate all the benefits and the advantages of Laddroller. Actually, I can send you a link with short documentary regarding Laddroller. We built for a little girl with disability and it tells all the story regarding how we started from day one with the concept and all the story behind the idea regarding Laddroller and the people involved and it’s a very well-made documentary regarding the story of that little girl.
Awesome. We will put links to all of those down in the show notes so that folks can easily find it and kind keep up on everything and be able to find out kind of when the Kickstarter starts and when just new developments are and just kind get a look at it. I know you gave a great description, you really explained it well, but I think it’s one of those things you really kind of have to almost see to completely, completely grasp kind of what it is.
So listeners, I definitely encourage you to go check out those videos, go check out the website and everything and really get a look at it because it’s a very, very unique design. But at the same time when you look at it, you just go, “Oh, well that makes sense. Why didn’t we do that before?” And anything to be able to help folks just be more independent, be able to get out there and just be a part of the world around them a little bit more is always a great thing and I thank you so much for coming on today for telling us all about it, and I look forward to the day when I see these kind of out on the street and folks getting around in them. Thank you again.
Thank you again, Josh.
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on assistive technology update? If so, call our listener line at 317 721 7124. Send us an email at Tech at Eastersealscrossroads.org or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone, Relay Access Corporation, or InTrack. You can find out more about InTrack at RelayIndiana.com. A special thanks to Nicole Prieto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule.
Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly, the opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project. Easterseals Crossroads are supporting partners or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.