Good point, Tool Maker. I would imagine the Frankenkindle was designed specifically for the needs of the Gadget Freak's sister. The needs of those with cerebral palsy vary greatly. I had a friend who was able to type with one toe. Friends of his rigged up a typewriter on the floor to accommodate this need.
You'd think that someone could manage to make stuff older people can use for a not too insanely high price. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case. What really gets me is, some Boomers can well afford better stuff, but so far marketers seem to be still aiming at my mother's Depression-Era generation. In either case, the quality is not what it could be. I'm about to go looking on Edmund Scientific's site, which will be a lot pricier than First Street or its ilk.
Siri: "I'm sorry, but I could not find any credit unions for dragons in your area."
Two of my daughters earned their medical degrees in the area of therapy for brain-damaged and otherwise severely disabled patients, many of whom could, and some of whom already do, benefit greatly from voice recognition technology. Many of us interact with similar technologies when we pay bills or do our banking by phone. We have come a long way since Clarke's Minisec and Comsole, further since Vannevar Bush's Memex, yet both dreams have yet to be fully realized.
Thanks for the positive feedback, gafisher. On a related note, we don't often think of speech recognition technology as something that's an enabler for older tech users and/or differently abled folks, but in fact speech recognition, which is become mainstream -- and will become even more widely distributed due to Siri in the new iPhone -- is opening up technology to many new users. It provides access both to those with visual or tactile impediments to use of certain devices, and well as negating the need to learn user interfaces which are baffling to those not technologically savvy. This is a long way of saying we take speech recognition for granted, and Dragon, the company which has done perhaps the most to popularize it, should get a lot of credit.
If the user suffers from cerebral palsy does that not mean she does not have complete control of her arms, hands and fingers? If that is the case, a touch and slide screen would not only be useless, but very confusing. It seems to me the large buttons are the perfect solution to this particular problem.
I think the large type reading app for aging baby boomers is a great idea. I've been checking out what's available out there in terms of magnifiers, mostly for my mother but also with expectations of eventually needing it myself. For instance, so far my glasses technically work OK for small type, but I get eyestrain after reading a lot of it. What's out there is mostly a royal pain to use. Much of it is also handheld, which can also be a problem for some older people. Much of it that's reasonably priced is essentially cheapo plastic magnifiers, whether floorstanding, tabletop or handheld.
That's an excellent point, Alexander. The market for technology geared to older users is growing quickly. This may be a time when Engineers should consider designing, not so much what we'd like to have today, but we're likely to want in the (all too quickly approaching) future.
[Here] is a pretty good review (and a link to a video review) of the Kindle specifically from the viewpoint of the disabled. The site may also be a good source of ideas for those wishing to consider this market, or looking for existing solutions.
The active area of the Kindle screen is almost exactly the same as the printed area of the pages in a typical "pocketbook"-style paperback, and of course the fonts can be adjusted from small to very large "print" so readability isn't a problem. Because the entire screen is usable for navigation on the touchscreen models, not only is it unnecessary to compensate for miniscule keyboard buttons (though of course the power switch might conceivably still be a problem) but in effect the "button" area is far larger than most external solutions could provide.
Still, I don't want to fall into the trap of equivolating disabilities; what might work for someone with one need won't necessarily work for someone with another, and the author's solution for his sister's CP may well be the best possible. Since it works for her, and gave the author an opportunity to exercise his talents on her behalf, in no way would I wish to suggest "FrankenKindle" is anything less than brilliant.
You make a good point here, but I wonder - and please correct me if I'm wrong - but, aren't the touch screen kindles all very small? I received a Kindle fire for Christmas and even though I'm very impressed with it, it's tiny. Seems that could stil be frustrating for a person with disabilities.
Eleven years ago one of those rare, brilliant moments emerged from the crack staff of Design News: Let’s put the tinkerers among our audience community to work in designing and building some truly wacky devices. And Gadget Freak was born.
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