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Enabling Engineering

The Need

An 18 year-old managing cerebral palsy (CP) relies on an application and a physical switch for communication. As is common for accessibility software, this communication application uses a scanning strategy to collect user input — it highlights menu options in the user interface one-by-one, row by row, until the switch is activated to select an option. A consequence of scanning strategies is that making a selection can take a very long time if the desired item is one of the last to be scanned. This teenager needs a faster, more flexible way to interact with his existing communication software.

The Project

The Speakeasy solution draws fromanother Enabling Engineering projectdesigned for the same individual—X-MAXGame Controller. After receiving feedbackfrom the family and the school’s physicaltherapist, it was clear that they wereinterested in using the X-MAX prototype tointerface with technology other than anXbox. Speakeasy represents the firstapplication of the X-MAX hardware to acontext that is unrelated to gaming. SinceX-MAX emulates an Xbox controller,interfacing with the communication software involves running an application that enables cursor control by an interface device that isn’t a mouse or trackpad. Now, instead of relying on a scanning input strategy, the menu options can be navigated using the X-MAX buttons like arrow keys.

Current Status

Has been tested on a regular Xbox 360 controller, and needs to be tested using the X-MAX controller.