UBC engineering students Kevin Lowe, Hengameh Hoseini , Rory Moglove and Andrea Slade have been awarded the 2011 Dr. Jim McEwen Excellence in Engineering Design Award from the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Society of British Columbia for their assistive reading device for people living with ALS. The students developed a way to connect a variety of common interface devices used by people with disabilities, such as joysticks and single-push buttons, to a tablet device using a Bluetooth connection. The students are supervised by professors Antony Hodgson and Craig Hennessey. A $5,000 prize accompanies their award.
“The student team focused on helping people with ALS increase their independence in reading,” says Hodgson. “Due to loss of muscle strength, people with ALS lose the ability to hold a book or magazine, and eventually cannot activate the buttons or make the swiping motions needed to control the newer e-reading devices. This means that people with ALS no longer need a caregiver to turn pages for them when they’re reading, and this has a significant impact on their quality of life. Some of the people who tried the students’ device didn’t want to give it back at the end of the trial.”
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