Friday, December 10, 2010

The Hand-e-holder for IOS Devices

The Hand-e-holder for IOS Devices: "

Recently I’ve stumbled upon a new holder for the iPad that I hoped would end up being the missing link I’ve been looking for in my quest to find a way to make the iPad work for me. It’s called the “Hand-e-holder” and it’s unlike any holder I’ve seen thus far.


The Hand-e-holder was developed by Burns Computer Services. The intent was to make an easy–to–use, versatile holder for the iPad and other similar devices. The description from the website is as follows:

“The Hand-e-holder allows you to hold and view your iPad/tablet device comfortably in your hand, while providing a 360° rotation”.

I’ve been using an iPod Touch for over two years but I’ve always been restricted to using it in portrait mode because that’s how it’s mounted on my wheelchair armrest. While this has worked out fairly well for me I’ve always hoped to find a method that would allow me to easily rotate my iPod Touch to either portrait or landscape mode without assistance from anybody else. Having the ability to do this would seem to be of greater importance with an iPad, which has been one of the obstacles preventing me from getting one.

When I first saw the Hand-e-holder I immediately noticed the “adapter plate” portion of the device. It’s like a miniature turntable attached to the holder itself which allows the 360° rotation. I figured if I could somehow mount the adapter plate on my armrest that I might have the solution I’ve been looking for. I spoke to Mike Burns, the founder of the company, and he was gracious enough to send me a slightly modified Hand-e-holder to see if it would work for me and my iPod Touch. As it turned out the straps on the Hand-e-holder were long enough that I could fasten it to my armrest by just wrapping them around the armrest securely with the adapter plate portion sitting squarely on top of my armrest. Then it was only a matter of attaching the “Dual Lock Ring” to the back of my Ipod Touch. The adhesive on the ring is quite strong but can be removed without damaging your device. Once the Dual Lock Ring was attached i was able to mount my Ipod Touch to the Hand-e-holder (which is attached to my armrest as in the picture) as often as i like. In other words, the Ipod Touch can be removed from the Hand-e-holder as often as needed. This is useful because there are times when friends or family want to use it, which would be kind of difficult if it were permanently stuck to my armrest. At first it was hard to believe how secure the Ipod Touch was sitting on my armrest like this but as long as you press hard enough when remounting it the Dual Lock Ring really does “lock” it back in place. If you check out the video on their website you’ll see this clearly demonstrated with an iPad. I must note however that i had to place the Dual Lock Ring directly onto the back of my iPod Touch for it to function correctly. At first I had tried attaching it to the back of the cheap rubber case my iPod Touch had been encased in but it didn’t stick well at all. Once the rubber case was out of the equation that’s no longer an issue. In fact, it sticks so well that I really don’t see a need to find a case that would work with it. However, if you feel more comfortable using a case there is a video on their website that shows you how to modify your case to work with the Hand-e-holder.

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The Hand-e-holder wrapped around my armrest (left) with the adapter plate directly under the iPod Touch (right)

So now the big question. Does this allow me to independently rotate my iPod Touch? I’m happy to say the answer is most definitely YES. I can’t do it as easily as somebody with a fully functional hand, which isn’t a surprise, but the important thing is I can now do it all by myself. So now if I want to do something on my iPod Touch that works better in landscape mode, like watch a YouTube video or play a game, I can put it that way. If it’s not something that’s already in landscape mode I only need to tilt my wheelchair back a little bit to get the iPod Touch’s accelerometer to do it’s thing and change the orientation. It’s pretty awesome and after only a few days it’s demonstrated how much I’ve been missing by not having this capability. I can even leave my dock connector plugged in constantly as before (my iPod Touch receives a constant charge from my wheelchair battery) no matter what orientation it’s in.


Independently rotating the iPod Touch from portrait to landscape orientation

These encouraging results gave me some hope where the iPad is concerned. However in my case there was also the question of whether there’s enough space for me to mount it in the same location as my iPod Touch. They also offer various stands and clamps that are compatible with the Hand-e-holder and further improve its accessibility and usefulness. My hope was the clamps could take care of the space problem, if there ended up being one. Fortunately I ended up getting a golden opportunity to answer all these questions regarding the iPad as Mike Burns was gracious enough to offer to send me some of the clamps and a loaner iPad to test things out! So I got to see first-hand if there’s some way this can work out for me.

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The iPad mounted on my armrest using one of the C-Clamps attached to the Hand-e-holder

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Portrait (left) and landscape (right) orientation on my armrest

Upon receiving the iPad I immediately discovered, as expected, that it is much too large to mount directly on my armrest in the same fashion that my iPod Touch is. So that left me with the clamps. I tried several positions and locations to no avail. No matter where I placed the iPad with the clamps it either prevented me from using my wheelchair controls, or messed with the width of my wheelchair for doorways and such, or both. However it became readily apparent that the clamps he sent me are incredibly versatile. They can be placed just about anywhere and at any angle. The problem for me though is that my limited arm movement just doesn’t allow for many potential locations on my wheelchair. In all honesty the perfect location would be right where my wheelchair hand controls are and they obviously can’t be moved. To Mike Burn’s credit he’s determined to make this work for me so as of this writing the book isn’t yet completely closed on the iPad and my wheelchair. So if they come up with another solution that works I will be sure to update this article.

But despite the inability (thus far) to get this to work for me it occurred to me that this COULD work very well for other physically disabled individuals. It perhaps could even be the difference between getting an iPad and not getting an iPad. I mentioned above how versatile the clamps and stands they offer are. So versatile that I really believe that others would be able to successfully mount an iPad on their wheelchair in an accessible position. You can get a good idea about this versatility with the pictures below. You’ll notice this versatility extends beyond the wheelchair as well. I was able to easily mount the iPad to my kitchen counter and the side rail on my bed, both of which made the iPad easily accessible to me at those locations. And even when attached to one of the clamps it’s still possible to easily rotate the iPad between landscape and portrait orientation. The possibilities are really endless here. Being able to use the iPad in bed so easily, especially with a mouthstick, was a surprising revelation for me. My iMac can’t really be moved around very easily so whenever I lay down in bed, to watch TV or take it easy, I’m pretty much cut off from the Internet and anything computer related. I have tried to use my iPod Touch in that position but the screen is just too small to make it practical. The iPad, however, works extremely well in that position. And since the iPad can do so many of the same things that a computer can (and as I learned in some cases can do certain things a little better) it was like my computer was right there with me! It’s so useful and convenient to have that capability that I’m now seriously considering getting an iPad of my own. It would certainly be a lifesaver whenever I get sick or have some other type of medical problem that keeps me bedridden for any length of time.

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The iPad mounted on my kitchen counter (left) enables easy drive-up to access (right)

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Using the iPad in landscape orientation (left) then independently rotating it for use in portrait orientation (right)

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The iPad mounted on the kitchen counter (left) and on my bed rail (right)


The iPad mounted on my bed rail from behind

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another important discovery I stumbled upon during this process. I previously wrote an article for ATMac entitled “Accessing the IPad: Mouthsticks, Head Pointers, and Styluses”. In it I explained how it’s possible to use the combination of aluminum foil and copper wiring with a mouthstick to make the mouthstick a fully functioning hands-free stylus for capacitive touchscreen devices, like the iPad. While this solution does work it could be much better. The aluminum foil isn’t as sensitive as I would like, sometimes forcing me to actually push with the mouthstick to get it to register, and it wears out rather quickly. I found a replacement for aluminum foil that works MUCH better – Scotch Bright Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges. In the same article I talked about how I use a Pogo Stylus attached to my hand splint to operate my iPod Touch. The Pogo Stylus makes use of conductive foam at its tip to make it function. Unfortunately the conductive foam wears out quicker than I would like, probably because my limited arm control causes me to press with the stylus instead of just touching on occasion. While the styluses aren’t really that expensive it still became somewhat of a pain being forced to constantly have to buy a new one. I thought maybe I could just get some conductive foam on my own and replace it whenever needed. However, unfortunately conductive foam isn’t exactly easy to come by. After doing some more Google detective work I discovered that the spongy material on Scotch Bright Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges transmits the electrical impulses of the skin just as well as conductive foam does. I already had some in my kitchen so I tore a small piece off and stuffed it into the end of the Pogo Stylus and amazingly it worked! And surprisingly it actually seems to work better than conductive foam! So it then occurred to me that I should try replacing the aluminum foil at the end of my modified mouthstick with this material to see if it would work. Well it does work and it does so extremely well! Now the mouthstick stylus is extremely sensitive and accurate. It also can be used at odd angles. With the aluminum foil the iPad (or iPod Touch) had to be straight in front of me and almost at a 90° angle for it to work. I consider this to be a pretty significant development and since these sponges are really cheap I now essentially have an endless supply of conductive foam that cost me just a few bucks!


Scotch Bright Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge mouthstick tip

So if you have some way to interact with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch (like with the Pogo Stylus or the mouthstick solution I spoke of) but are unable to actually hold the device the Hand-e-holder may be the solution you’re looking for. There are actually other potential solutions out there, like the ones from RJ Cooper, but none are as simple and inexpensive as the Hand-e-holder solution. I can really see the Hand-e-holder potentially making a huge difference for physically disabled people such as myself. So if you think this may be of any benefit to you I encourage you to check out the Hand-e-holder. You could even contact them and they will help you choose the best solution for your needs.

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This article was originally published at The Hand-e-holder for IOS Devices and is copyright (C) Ricky Buchanan 2010. May be forwarded but do not republish without permission.

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New iPad App Is Helping Cerebral Palsy Patients

New iPad App Is Helping Cerebral Palsy Patients: "

New iPad App Is Helping Cerebral Palsy Patients

Too often, we forget that technology products are not just for playing games or to help us do our daily work. This week, the University of Michigan published a report on how its engineering and computer science students have developed a special app to help cerebral palsy patients. It’s a wonderful read.

Students were looking for a project to tackle and decided to focus on helping people with impaired motor skills. Soon, they brought in rehabilitation engineers from the University’s C.S. Mott Hospital.

The end result is pretty neat, as this YouTube video shows.

Stories like this aren’t surprising. The iPad’s relatively inexpensive price (compared to laptops) and size make it ideal for those in need. I invite our visitors to read the entire article here. You’ll be happy you did!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

iPad a Popular Tool Among Therapists Helping The Disabled

iPad a Popular Tool Among Therapists Helping The Disabled: "

iPad a Popular Tool Among Therapists Helping The Disabled

The holiday season is upon us, and so are stories that warm your heart. Courtesy of Apple; people with disabilities are able to do tasks that the rest of us take for granted. The New York Times has compiled videos and various stories about how the disabled are being helped by the iPad. Individuals with disabilities can now handle tasks such as: turning the pages of a book or choosing a video to watch.

Therapists are able to integrate the iPad into sessions with their patients, and even legislators see its intrinsic value. Representative Edward J Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat said:

“Apple is an outlier when it comes to devices that are accessible out of the box.”

Can you think of more uses for the iPad that have been overlooked? Please leave a comment.

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    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Comparing iPads, Netbooks, and Auggies for AAC Use

    Comparing iPads, Netbooks, and Auggies for AAC Use: "

    ipad-heldRJ Cooper has put together two very helpful pages for people thinking about purchasing an iPad for use as an AAC device.

    The first page compares an iPad with RJ Cooper’s own “Auggie” device, the second compares an iPad and a Netbook.

    Girl holding a black leather case with a shoulder strap

    RJ Cooper's daughter models his iPad case with shoulder strap

    I think his comparison pages are great and can certainly very helpful for people deciding what device to purchase, but I do have a few comments about the comparison tables:

    • Contrary to what RJ wrote, the iPad can be used with a stylus. It needs to be a stylus (such as the Pogo brand) which is designed for use with iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch type devices, but there are many of these on the market now. We have discussed stylus and mouth stick users previously on ATMac.

    • RJ writes that the menu button (the “Home” button on the iPad’s front) is too accessible. I agree completely, but note that this is easily remedied in many cases by adapting the case you have the iPad in, reversing the iPad in its case (so the home button is not exposed) or covering the button with a piece of plastic. I have a forthcoming video article on this topic which will display these solutions in action.

    • The keyboard is listed as “On-screen or keyboard dock and Apple keyboard”. The keyboard dock has a built-in Apple keyboard and is one option. An Apple bluetooth (wireless) keyboard is another option, but in fact the iPad will work fine with virtually any standard Bluetooth keyboard (one that doesn’t need a driver loaded on your computer before it works). With the Apple brand bluetooth keyboard there are a few additional functions available via the keyboard’s function keys, but other than that any brand of bluetooth keyboard is fine.

    • Web page capability is listed as “Standard pages only” which is quite vague. Any web page will work fine except that pages with Flash or Silverlight content won’t load the Flash/Silverlight sections. None of the web sites I regularly visit have any Flash/Silverlight content except for advertisements (and I’m happy the ads don’t load!) so I have never found this a problem, but if there are web pages that you must be able to access through the device it’s worth trying these out on an iPad when you visit your local Apple store just to make sure they’re OK.

    RJ Cooper has some other pages you might find useful also:

    Making Pointer Work On The iPad has a technique similar to that previously described in our article Accessing the iPad: Mouthsticks and Styluses. The theory behind the two was the same, but Paul’s implementation here was less bulky and having the foil at the end means the end of the pointer was still rounded. If you have access to conductive foam (your local electronics store can probably help), a third option was discussed on LifeKludger’s article DIY Touchscreen Stylus using Conductive foam.

    RJ Sells an iPad Carry Case in black and red, it’s a sturdy leather case with a shoulder strap - perfect for AAC users. I’d love to have one of these to carry my own iPad in!

    The iPad Bumper Case is perfect for attaching the iPad to mounting devices in a removable fashion, and the Bumper Case provides a little more protection to the device also.

    The iPad Speaker is a small battery-powered bluetooth speaker which can easily be attached to the iPad’s back, or to a stand or the outside of a case and significantly boosts the iPad’s volume. Again, perfect for AAC users.

    RJ also offers an iPad Stand perfect for positioning the iPad on a table, desk, or wheelchair tray, and an a small mounting arm available in articulating and non-articulating versions and very adaptable for use as an iPad Mount.

    If you’re an iPad AAC user, or a parent/supporter/teacher of such, what accessories do you use?

    – Ricky Buchanan

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    This article was originally published at 'Comparing iPads, Netbooks, and Auggies for AAC Use' and is copyright (C) Ricky Buchanan 2010. Please do not republish without permission.

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    Friday, August 13, 2010

    QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes Medical

    QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes Medical: "

    QuickAdvice: Dragon Medical Mobile Search

    Dragon Medical Mobile Search by Nuance Communications icon

    Dragon Medical Mobile Search (Free) by Nuance Communications is the third in Nuance’s series of iPhone applications, this time aiming strictly at the medical field. Those that are in the medicinal field can appreciate Nuance’s mobile medical search.

    When the app is first launch, you’ll have to accept the user agreement (I’ve attached an important part of the terms that you may want to take a look at in the screenshots) before you can do anything. Basically, Nuance can collect and use the Speech Data in this app to help enhance the speech recognition in this service as well as others.

    Once you accept the agreement, you can optionally register your copy of the app as well, providing your name and email, and some information about your profession in the field (though these are completely optional and I skipped them, since I’m not in the field).

    Dragon Medical Mobile Search by Nuance Communications screenshot

    Now that we’re past these required steps, it’s time to put Nuance’s well-acclaimed dictation service to work. Simply tap and speak a medical term into the app. It will automatically detect when you are done talking, and begin fetching results. This screen will also contain the latest search history at the bottom, with an option to clear.

    Dragon Medical Mobile will pull up results from several popular sources for medicinal info: Google, Medscape, IMO,, and Medline. You can access stuff like drug-to-drug interaction information, medications, ICD-9 code lookups, and anything else medical related. You can scroll through these sources with the horizonal tool bar at the top. If a search query isn’t correct, you can also tweak it until you get the right results.

    Links can be viewed directly on the screen, with more browser-like options when viewing Google results. For Google results, you can also open in Safari or copy the link.

    I found that the speech recognition is pretty spot on most of the time, although it seems to have some difficulty with differentiating letter sounds that are similar, such as ‘b’ and ‘p’ and ‘v’. So for terms like that, unless you can get it perfectly, it may take several tries before it will finally recognize what you’re actually looking for. But for everything else, the result should be accurate and instant.

    Dragon Medical Mobile Search by Nuance Communications screenshot

    Once again, Nuance Communications has another excellent app on their hands, although this one is much more narrowly tailored. But if you’re working in the medicinal field and want something to aid you on-the-fly with great speech recognition, then this is definitely a great choice. It’s simply a great pocket companion for you while on the job in case you need to reference something or get a refresher on a condition.

    This is pretty much the same as Dragon Search, except for medical info. Nuance Communications claims that this app is free for a limited time only, despite their other apps being free since the beginning.

    Who knows how long this app will remain free, so if you need it, grab it now!

    DragonMed10 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed5 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed9 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed4 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed8 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed3 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed7 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed2 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed16 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed15 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed14 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed13 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed12 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed6 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes MedicalDragonMed11 150x150 QuickAdvice: Dragon Search Goes Medical

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