Assistive Technologies

Meet the dad who built a prosthetic arm for his son


When his father, Ben Ryan, found out his newborn son couldn't get a functional prosthetic until he was three, he started Ambionics to build one himself. Inspired by the way fluid moves a spider's legs, the prosthetics uses hydraulic technology.

Yemen's industrial-scale prosthetic limb factory

BBC News

The Orthopaedic and Prosthetic Centre in Taiz offers hope for the seriously injured in Yemen's war.

The last free Windows 10 upgrade path for consumers will shut down by December 31


There's still one way consumers can upgrade to Windows 10 for free--and Microsoft will shut it down on December 31, even though a majority of the world's PC users still use older versions of Windows. Microsoft gave Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users an entire year after the launch of Windows 10 (until July 31, 2016) to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. But there was one exception: those who used assistive technology, such as screen readers, got an indefinite extension. According to a Microsoft support page, the deadline for those users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free expires by the end of the year, as noted by Slashgear. After that, consumers will have to pay the full price for a Windows license, which costs about $75 from Amazon for a "system builder" license for Windows 10 Home, and more for retail Home or Professional versions.

How Disabled Students Benefit From Assistive Technology In Classrooms

International Business Times

Technology has modernized the system of education for students with various disabilities, making it easier for them to keep up with academic curriculums and even compete with their peers in classrooms. According to Open Colleges, most of the common disabilities can be categorized into any of the following classification -- Physical (students using wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, or dealing with diseases such as muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, etc), Sensory (students lacking in normal visual, hearing or speaking abilities), Cognitive (students with weaknesses when it comes to memory, self-expression, information processing, and other learning disabilities), Psychiatric (students may suffer from an array of challenges, ranging from social phobias, bipolar and/or other personality disorders), Health-related (students who have chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes or epilepsy) A Palestinian child reads braille during a class at Al-Nour, which translates'we have seen,' Rehabilitation Center for the Visually Impaired, in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, May 7, 2006. Students who suffer from any form of disability might find it difficult to attend classes regularly, keep up with everything that is being taught and compete at the same level with children who are not plagued by the same impairments that they have. These students often need some extra assistance when it comes to performing academically. One of the best forms of assistance in today's times is the gift of technology.

MIT students hack assistive technology solutions for local clients

MIT News

Students have one day to create prototype assistive devices to suit client needs. Students had access to a wide range of resources, including working space, machinery, and building materials, within Beaver Works and technical assistance from several mentors: John Vivilecchia, Kurt Krueger, and Richard Landry of MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Don Fredette of The Boston Home; Michael Buchman of the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Mary Ziegler of the MIT Office of Digital Learning. The team decided to hack a universal remote that communicates via Wi-Fi with a web interface from which Dan could control television power, volume, and channels. Once the build time was over, several judges, including the ATHack organizers, David Crandelle and David Binder of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network; John Vivilecchia; Don Fredette; and Mary Ziegler evaluated each team's device.

Making prosthetic limbs feel more natural

MIT News

Through coordination of the patient's prosthetic limb, existing nerves, and muscle grafts, amputees would be able to sense where their limbs are in space and to feel how much force is being applied to them. For example, when you bend your elbow, the biceps muscle contracts, causing the triceps to stretch, and that triceps stretch sends sensory information related to position, velocity, and force back to the brain. Without these intact muscle pairs, persons with limb amputation have no way of sensing where their artificial limbs are, nor can they sense the forces applied to those limbs. When the brain sends signals instructing a limb to move, one of the grafted muscles will contract, and its agonist will extend.

Baidu's text-to-speech system mimics a variety of accents 'perfectly'


Chinese tech giant Baidu's text-to-speech system, Deep Voice, is making a lot of progress toward sounding more human. Baidu says that unlike previous text-to-speech systems, Deep Voice 2 finds shared qualities between the training voices entirely on its own, and without any previous guidance. "Deep voice 2 can learn from hundreds of voices and imitate them perfectly," a blog post says. In a research paper (PDF), Baidu concludes that its neural network can create voice pretty effectively even from small voice samples from hundreds of different speakers.

[R] Deep Voice 2: Multi-Speaker Neural Text-to-Speech • r/MachineLearning


TL;DR Baidu's TTS system now supports multi-speaker conditioning, and can learn new speakers with very little data (a la LyreBird). I'm really excited about the recent influx of neural-net TTS systems, but all of the them seem to be too slow for real time dialog, or not publicly available, or both. Hoping that one of them gets a high quality open-source implementation soon!

Brace yourself: This prosthetic engineer is giving animals a leg up

PBS NewsHour

Derrick Campana kneels beside Angel Marie, a three-legged mini horse who wears a prosthetic leg made by Campana. Campana made the jump to the animal field 12 years ago when few, if any, people created artificial limbs for dogs and other pets. Derrick Campana holds the prosthetic paw he made for Kenna, a three year-old golden retriever born without a front paw. Derrick Campana holds the molds for prosthetic legs he made for two Thai elephants who lost limbs in landmine explosions.

Asiana Airlines Passenger Forced To Move From Seat Over Prosthetic Leg, Told 'You're Not Normal'

International Business Times

"It's not safe," an airline representative allegedly told Seward during an exchange that was not captured on video. Seward then asks the Asiana Airlines agent why he is being asked to change seats. As ABC pointed out, the Federal Aviation Administration's website clearly states that "physical ability" to perform the necessary duties required of exit row seats are used to determine whether a person with a prosthetic can sit there -- not the prosthetic alone. "If a passenger with a prosthesis is being evaluated for assignment to an exit seat, the presence of the prosthesis would not be the determinant for being able to meet the criteria but rather the physical ability to perform the exit seat duties," reads the FAA website.