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Vocal Switch

Enabling Engineering

The Need

At the William E. Carter Schoolof Boston, students withcerebral palsy (CP) lack boththe fine motor skills needed toactivate mechanical switchesand the ability to communicateverbally. There is a need for anergonomic, wearable, vocalvibration-activated switch toextend the ability tocommunicate and learn withclassroom devices to studentsmanaging CP. Currently, many devices are only accessible via mechanical means. A vocally-activated switch will provide more students access to the communication, education, and leisure afforded by existing classroom devices.

The Project


The team is developing a switch activated and controlled by the vocal cord vibrations of the user. The device will use a MEMS accelerometer to measure vocal cord vibrations. These signals will then be digitally filtered through a microcontroller using the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), providing the ability to distinguish intentional vibrations from unintentional noises to promote accurate switch activation. The end product will be designed to act in place of existing mechanical switches and interface with educational devices currently used in the classroom setting.

Current Status

The main activities have been learning about how the accelerometer works, figuring out how to gather data in MATLAB, and designing a holder to house the electronics in a wearable, comfortable, ergonomic fashion.