University students develop open sourced assistive tech product

We love to see new innovations in the assistive technology area. A group of university students have developed software called ‘Universal Controller’. It allows different technologies and devices to be controlled in a variety of different ways via voice controls, joysticks, or eye tracking. It is hoped this software will make a difference within the disability sector and aid in controlling technology such as wheelchairs, robotic arms and smart home technology in a way that best suits an individuals needs. We could not be any more excited about this great initiative. The team were all participating in Imperial’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, which gives undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in research under the supervision of academic staff. The Universal Controller project was funded by Wooden Spoon allowing this idea to be moved quickly to the assistive technology space. The group have made three prototype systems to showcase. A system for controlling a robotic arm that can be connected with various different input devices, an interface with Amazon Alexa for users with limited vocal capabilities, and a cooking system with a ‘smart’ pan for people with special educational needs to help guide them through the cooking process. Personally, I think these are amazing ideas especially an interface with Amazon Alexa for users with limited vocal capabilities like myself. The good news is this software will be open sourced which means anyone can contribute based on their own requirements. Team member Fiona Boyce said, ‘We want to be able to make technology more adaptable for individual needs. Most assistive technology is bespoke, which means it’s expensive. Additionally, devices have completely different operating systems and communication methods that don’t interact with one another. Our idea is to create software that would bridge this gap and make it easier for developers to incorporate accessibility into their products.’ We say….. fantastic and keep such great innovation coming!