People who are unable to communicate using their voices, sign language, or computer interfaces often send signals using switches. These signals can be used for many purposes, including controlling lights or communicating. A young student at The Carter School has a form of Cerebral Palsy that makes it difficult to exert more than a small amount of force, making it difficult for him to operate mechanical switches. Alternative switches, based on light or other signals, require too much fine motor control for this student to operate.
This chime-based switch allows the student to send a signal by brushing his hand along a collection of hanging chimes—a solution inspired by his love of wind chimes. Taking into account his limited fine motor control, our team designed a switch that is activated by capacitive touch sensing. The design includes a custom, laser-cut acrylic frame, 16 chimes, an Arduino microcontroller, and earphone jacks.
The design is complete and was tested by two students at the Carter School. The group received useful feedback that will be used to improve the design in the future.