Amazon Echo Grid Set Now Available

Amazon Echo Grid Set Now Available

Photo credit: Courtesy of Amazon

The Amazon Echo now has its own grid set! The Amazon Echo took the world by storm back in December, making it one of the hottest holiday gifts. Now, users can operate the echo using their Grid Pad. You need to make sure you are using the latest Grid 3 software. Once the grid set is enabled, you can communicate with Alexa using word lists, which you can edit to suit your preferences.

The grid set makes it easy to access popular Amazon Echo functions, including music and radio, entertainment, smart home devices, alarms, timers and more. You will need to complete the initial set-up of your Amazon Echo first, which includes connecting it to your Wi-Fi and setting your defaults. You can enable skills on the Echo using your grid set. You can even create custom commands for each skill. Amazon Echo skills include games, jokes, news feeds, education and reference and more. It even has a March Madness skill!

If you have used or plan to use the Amazon Echo grid set, let us know how you like it. We would love to hear your feedback.

Download the Amazon Echo grid set here:

Grid Pad Go – Now in Two Sizes!

New in 2017, the Grid Pad Go now comes in your choice of two sizes.  The Grid Pad Go 8 still has an 8” capacitive touch screen.  The latest addition – the Grid Pad Go 10 – features a 10” capacitive touch screen.  Both models boast the powerful Grid 3 software, complemented by the Windows 10 operating system.  And, with 4GB of memory, a 54 GB hard drive, and an Intel® HD Graphics Intel video card, either system can perform even the most advanced tasks. An integrated ruggedized casing, short hand strap and longer body strap makes this lightweight device perfect to take on the “go”.

Assistive technology becoming more and more important to individuals with spinal cord injuries and debilitating diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  We are living in a society driven by electronics, which means environmental control units (ECU) and speech generating devices (SGD) give quadriplegics more access to the world than ever before. Assistive technology such as the Grid Pad Go can be used to check e-mail, chat with other on the Internet, make purchases online, connect through Social Media, stream movies and television shows, and much, much more.

Check out our new online store where you can easily compare different products and explore software options. Complete the Request Quote form and one of ASI’s representatives will contact you.  It is important to make sure you are purchasing the best unit/package for your needs.  We spend the time it takes to help you understand the different options and customize each product specifically for you.

Veterans Administration Benefits

Veterans Administration BenefitsVeterans with qualifying disabilities may be eligible to receive the autonoME environmental control unit/speech generating device free of charge through the Veterans Administration (VA).  In fact, we have customized and installed the autonoME in the homes of hundreds of veterans.

The autonoME is specifically designed for individuals with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and quadriplegics as well as individuals with debilitating diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  It allows individuals to completely control their environment (i.e. turn on fan/lights, control their bed, television and telephone, call a nurse or caregiver, open a door, use a computer, etc.).  Each autonoME is customized for the client and can be operated using a number of technologies.  For instance, the autonoME can be equipped so non-verbal individuals can control the unit using their eyes, etc.

When you receive your autonoME, you are not on your own to figure it out.  We understand everyone has different needs, so we send a technician to your home to customize and install the package and work with you and your caregiver on how to utilize its features.  We also provide ongoing customer support, which we personally handle. If you or a loved one are a quadriplegic, have a brain or spinal cord injury or disease such as ALS, talk with your VA representative to see what benefits you may qualify to receive.

The VA also publishes an online guide, Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors. It is well worth checking out!

autonoME Features (part four)

Today we will take a look at the various input methods that can be used with the autonoME. Clients use the autonoME as an environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device (SGD). In fact, its alternative augmentative communication (AAC) features are especially popular.  Each person’s needs are different, so we customize the autonoME for every user.  Let’s take a look at some of the input methods/devices that can be used with the autonoME:

Voice

The autonoME features a directional microphone which can be pointed toward the user. He or she can then speak voice commands directly into the microphone.

Touch

The autonoME’s capacitive touch screen allows users to touch and activate the commands they want to use. The autonoME comes equipped with a stylus pen.  The screen responds to both the stylus and finger touch.

Switch Scanning

The autonoME’s Sip and Puff switch, which is included with each package, allows clients to activate commands by sipping and puffing on an attached straw, which activates the switch. The switch scanner enables the user to move across and down the screen using either a single or dual switch.

Eye Tracking

Eye tracking allows the user to activate commands using their eyes. The user simply initiates the command by staring into a camera that is mounted underneath the autonoME which tracks the movement of their pupils.   The camera allows the user to move the cursor left, right, up and down the screen.

Head Tracking

Head tracking is very similar to eye tracking except head movements are used to operate the mouse. The camera is mounted on top of the autonoME and metallic sticker is placed near the middle of the user’s eyebrows.  This allows the client to move his or her head up, down, left or right to control the curser and activate commands.

It is important to note that a combination of devices can be interchanged.  One popular combo is voice and switch scanning.  Different input methods can be configured and controlled in the User settings. Do you or someone you know want to learn more?  If so, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

autonoME features Part 4

autonoME Features (part three)

As you know, the autonoME is an environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device (SGD) all in one single, convenient, integrated package.  We’ve been highlighting different features of the autonoME, and today we are going to talk about how it performs as an SGD.

The autonoME includes all of the features of a traditional SGD, including customized speech generation and augmented speech.  In fact, the autonoME has its own Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) menu.  This menu includes access to a keyboard for typing words and sentences, which can be used as a traditional keyboard, or, operated with Eye Gaze, sip & puff and head tracking. There is also a message bank where you can input and store terms and sentences that may be spoken on a regular basis (i.e. I am hungry; thank you, etc.).  The grid sets are designed specifically for non-verbal users, allowing the autonoME to speak for them and essentially become their voice.

During installation, ASI spends time working with patients, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, caregivers and designated hospital staff to demonstrate the autonoME’s AAC capabilities. Please reference our comparison chart to see how the autonoME compares with traditional ECUs and SGDs.

Hospitals, rehabilitation and nursing facilities – we have technicians who will travel to your site and demonstrate how the autonoME can increase patient satisfaction. Contact us today to set up a customized and complimentary consultation.

autonoME Features (part two)

This is part two of a multi-part series highlighting the features of the autonoME environmental control unit (ECU)/speech generating device (SGD) package. Last time, we discussed how the autonoME controls television.  Today, we are going to explore some additional ways the autonoME can be used for entertainment.

Games

The autonoME is equipped with a number of games including chess and the ever popular solitaire.  You can also access additional grid sets for more games and apps.

e-Reader

The Kindle e-reader is pre-installed on every autonoME.  Access thousands of books and other media.

Internet Radio

Enjoy your favorite tunes from an endless number of Internet radio stations.

Computer

Your autonoME is equipped with Microsoft Windows. Surf the web, create documents, send and receive e-mail, use a calculator and more.

Two-Way Camera

Take photos or selfies and share them with your family and friends.

Social Media

Update your status, create posts, send Tweets, etc. by accessing grid sets built specifically for Social Media.

Our next article will highlight how the autonoME is used for speech generation.

autonoME Features (part one)

This is first of a multi-part series where we will go in-depth and discuss the features of the autonoME.  As you know, the autonoME combines both environmental control and speech generation in one single package. This offers individuals full alternative augmentative communication (AAC) and the ability to control their environment with the same device.

There are three types of autonoME packages:

  • autonoME Residential – designed for in-home use
  • autonoME Hospital – used in hospital, rehab and long-term care settings
  • autonoMEgo – an alternative option offering portability for use from patient to patient

Today, we will focus on some of the features that make the autonoME attractive to hospitals, rehabilitation and long term care facilities.


Custom Installation and Ongoing Customer Support

We work with physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses and staff to develop customized autonoME packages for each facility.  Not only do we install the units ourselves, but we spend time training staff on how to the package works to ensure they understand how to maximize all the the autonoME’s impressive features.  We also provide ongoing support and personally handle all questions and inquiries. We do not farm our support out to a third party or call center.

Nurse Call

This integrated feature allows patients to activate the nurse call light, eliminating the need for a separate call button. This is especially helpful for individuals who are unable to press a button as they can activate the call light using features such as eye gaze and sip and puff.

Room Control

The environmental control features allow them to control their bed and lights.  Bed timing can even be adjusted to increase or decrease the amount of time the bed moves in any direction. Patients in rooms equipped with an autonoME generally call on staff less often.

Television Control

Allows patients to fully control their television sets, eliminating the need to call for a staff member to adjust volume or change channels.

Telephone

Controls basic telephone functions, allowing patients to answer and make calls on their own.

It is important to note that our residential units are also equipped with the above features, just customized for in-home use.  For instance, the nurse call feature is actually a caregiver call.  Room control may include operating ceiling fans and door openers.  And, television control may include the ability to switch from satellite to local television stations.

Our next article will discuss some of the popular ways the autonoME is used for entertainment.

Swim Free!

Here is an interesting story out of southern Australia.  Paraplegics and quadriplegics are learning how to scuba dive as part of their therapy.  Muscle atrophy (decrease in the mass of the muscle) occurs when muscles are not used, and is common among those who are paralyzed. Hydrotherapy – in this case, scuba diving – allows paraplegics and quadriplegics to stretch their muscles and spread their limbs as they move through the water.  Like the autonoME – which promotes freedom and independence outside of the water – scuba gear can expand the feeling of independence by stimulating unused muscle groups and allowing participants to swim free.

So, not only can paraplegics and quadriplegics achieve therapeutic benefits from scuba diving, they now have a new sport they can participate in and enjoy!

Check it out:

Are you a quadriplegic who swims and scuba dives?  If so, we would love to hear your story.

Note: Any activity or sport should not be attempted without first consulting your physical therapist or physician.

The autonoME in Action

Robert Oxford, a quadriplegic, finds independence through his autonoME environmental control unit (ECU).

ASI Partners with Dream Foundation to Fulfill Final Wish

Environmental Control Unit (ECU) Allows 84-year-old with Parkinson’s Disease to Communicate with His WifeAlfred and Anna at Sandys wedding

Eighty-four year old Alfred Combee had quite an active life. The former fire investigator was also an avid wildlife photographer. He and his wife Anna loved to mountain bike together. Three years ago, Alfred found out he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His disease progressed quickly. He has already lost his speech and his ability to write, which left him unable to communicate.

Alfred’s wife Anna is now his full-time caregiver. Frustration grew among them both as Alfred struggled to convey even the simplest information.

“It got to the point where he could not even tell me if he needed something,” explains Anna. “He could not communicate basic things like when he had a headache or if he needed his medicine. It is very scary when you do not know what is wrong.”

Alfred’s dream was to be able to speak to his wife again, so, his hospice social worker suggested they contact Dream Foundation. The California-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness. Dream recipients are 18 years of age and older, have received a limited prognosis, and lack the resources to fulfill their dreams themselves. Anna submitted an application on behalf of Alfred, and, much to their excitement, they were selected. With more than 20,000 dreams served since 1994, Dream Foundation has never turned away a qualified dream request.

Dream Foundation contacted Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) in Homosassa, Florida to see if they would be willing to develop and donate a device to help Alfred achieve his dream of being able to communicate with Anna. ASI manufactures the autonoMe ECU and customizes the devices to fit the specific needs of each client. When ASI president Maggie Thompson heard Alfred’s story, she was more than willing to help.

“We knew how important it was for Alfred to be able to speak to Anna,” says Maggie Thompson, President of ASI, “We sent our technical team to Alfred’s home multiple times and developed a solution which now allows him to communicate with Anna. We were determined to do whatever it took to make one of his final wishes come true.”

According to Anna, Alfred is able to type into the device, which, in turn, speaks to Anna.

“They also programmed pre-fabricated sentences he can choose from, such as ‘I need to take my medicine’ and ‘I have a headache’,” says Anna. “I can now quickly respond to what he needs. We can also have a conversation, which we could not do before.”

According to Dream Foundation Executive Director Kisa Heyer, “Our organization was touched by Alfred’s story and his unique needs. Working with ASI was an encouraging and heart-warming experience that allowed us to help restore Alfred’s quality of life. We are thrilled for both him and Anna that he is once again able to communicate.”

“Alfred and I have been together for 25 years. My full time job is taking care of him. This is what you do when you love somebody,” concludes Anna. “I am grateful to both the Dream Foundation and ASI for making sure Alfred got exactly what he wanted.”

About Dream Foundation
The only national dream-granting organization for adults, Dream Foundation enhances the quality of life for individuals and their families battling life-threatening illness. Dream recipients are those individuals who have been given a year or less life expectancy. Dreams range from basic need items, like a working stove, to bedside reunions and meaningful experiences with children and loved ones. Founded in 1994, Dream Foundation serves more than 2,500 dreams each year and relies on a network of volunteers, sponsors and individual donors. For more information, visit www.dreamfoundation.org.