Friday, May 13, 2011

PageBot for Kindle - Assistive technology for access to Kindle reading

Origin Instruments, a global provider of assistive technology, announced today the first switch-based access to the Kindle eReader.  PageBot for Kindle enables convenient reading by people who cannot hold the Kindle or press its buttons.

Origin's solutions for Kindle DX and Kindle 2 are available now, and an additional PageBot model that works with all versions of the Kindle 3 will be available in June.

The CEO of the company is Steve Bain, long involved with the e-reader community on Twitter as KindleToday, keeping us abreast of developments in the e-reader world along with KindleZen (Joel Watson), who explains to us at the KindleZen website how, as a high-level quadraplegic and member of the team, he uses the PageBot, placed on a lapboard, to read on a Kindle.   Below is some information from the Origin Instruments site and from the press release.

Designed for adaptability, PageBot combines:
  . actuators for the Kindle's Next Page and Previous Page
  . a contoured frame for securely holding the Kindle, and
  . a universal mounting arm that can position the Kindle for
      convenient reading.

PageBot's switch interface accepts Next Page and Previous Page commands from:
  . one or two adaptive switches, or
  . a wired or wireless USB mouse device.

Origin Instruments provides more-detailed explanations at their PageBot webpage.  I especially liked their solution for the Kindle's time-out function, which requires having to power up the Kindle from sleep, via its power switch.  Some excerpts from that page:
' PageBot combines a secure and adjustable mount, dual integrated actuators for the Kindle Next Page and Previous Page buttons, and a built-in intelligent drive circuit that can directly interface to a wide variety of adaptive switches.

With PageBot, reading on the Amazon Kindle is accessible to people with motor disabilities that might result from birth defects, spinal cord injury, ALS, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, arthritis, or repetitive strain injury.  PageBot provides a much more compact, reliable, and cost effective solution for long-form reading than legacy mechanical page turners for paper books.

PageBot integrates multiple interfaces for adaptive switches that can suit the preferences and abilities of individual users.

Standard mechanical adaptive switches with 3.5 mm microphone-style connectors, like the button switches available from Origin Instruments, can be plugged in directly.  Dual switches, like the Origin Instruments Sip/Puff Switch, can interface with a single stereo cable.

PageBot is also compatible with a wide range of adaptive switches that are available from other assistive technology suppliers.  In addition, a USB host interface is provided so that PageBot can be operated from the buttons of a wired or wireless USB mouse.

PageBot captures the Kindle in a grip of compliant foam that helps prevent scratches and enhances resistance to mechanical shocks.

PageBot is delivered with an adjustable mechanical mounting arm that is articulated in four degrees of freedom. [See their webpage for details]

PageBot has very low quiescent power consumption and can be powered from the standard Kindle power adapter or from an optional rechargeable USB battery pack.

PageBot includes an integrated Keep Awake mode with an automatic timer that can optionally prevent the Kindle from entering sleep after a period of inactivity. This feature eliminates the need to manipulate the Kindle power switch after a pause in reading.

PageBot is available in three different models.  PageBot for Kindle DX and PageBot for Kindle 2 are both available for delivery from the Origin Instruments online PageBot Store.

PageBot for Kindle 3 will be available in June 2011.  Amazon's Kindle and needed adaptive switches are available separately. '
The pricing of adaptive equipment technology, usually produced in modest-volume, is often extremely expensive.  These seem, relatively speaking, more reasonably priced to me.

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. All this would be much easier if Kindles included Bluetooth support for a keyboard and a mouse. For a keyboard, the easy to press spacebar could move forward a page and the cursor keys could replace the tiny and difficult-to-use scroll pad. I'm not sure all the features of a mouse could be adapted to the UI, but the left and right buttons could certainly page forward and backward. Almost any of us could find that handy,

    And while we can appreciate what Origin Instruments has done, the price of a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse solution would be about one fifth the cost and it'd be much more portable and easier to set up.

  2. I agree 100% with Inkling, this should be a software solution via Bluetooth or WiFi. Plus it would be useful for non-disabled who simply want the freedom to be untethered from the device. How cool would it be to sit in a chair and read without moving arms at all, that's what's so attractive about reading on a PC, nothing to hold and mouse clicks to turn pages.

  3. Inkling and Steve

    I'm Steve Bain from Origin Instruments and Andrys has offered me an opportunity to comment on your comments. For the current versions of Kindle products, Amazon doesn't yet provide an electronic way to control paging, so PageBot employs electromechanical actuators to control the two most important buttons on Kindle. The switches shown in the photos are just examples. PageBot can accept switch inputs from the buttons of a wireless mouse, or more typically from adaptive switches that are optimized for the particular abilities and preferences of an individual. For example, a popular type of adaptive switch for people with high-level spinal cord injury is sip-and-puff.

    Many folks with motor disabilities do read on computers, and the main business at Origin Instruments has long been in developing and supplying products like HeadMouse and Swifty that enable complete computer access for people who have no use of their hands.

    However, motor-disabled people may prefer to read on a Kindle for all of the same reasons that non-disabled people do: portability, simplicity of the interface, freedom from distractions, the paper-like display, and the ability to read outdoors and on-the-go.

  4. Make it easy ..
    Zamre Bin Ab. Wahab

  5. I wonder if this could be used by pianists. It would be great to be able to turn pages of sheet music with a foot pedal.

  6. This is awesome news. I'm disabled thanks to Lou Gehrig's Disease [ALS]. I was about to give up being able to read books until the kindle arrived. As the disease progresses, the buttons are getting harder to push.
    While keyboard may sound good, I think for me that switch [or mouse] is less cumbersome. I much prefer reading on kindle versus ipad or computer.
    Item is pricey ... hope that changes.

    Thank you Ms. Basten for your post.

  7. ctk56,
    My pleasure to post about this. I'm sorry about your having to deal with ALS and finding the buttons progressively harder to push. I hope that somehow this or something like this can be afforded.

    With no high-volume, mass market economies of scale, the pricing on adaptive equipment will necessarily be higher (it's one reason even the more mass-market DX is so expensive - all other larger e-ink screen devices have failed in the marketplace), but if the PageBot becomes a popular item, maybe the pricing will go down somewhat.

    Thanks for your input on this.

  8. Mark,
    I totally botched up my edited post to you and the links didn't show up. Here's another try:

    I had briefly wondered the same thing.

    The sheet-music gizmos built specifically for that cost about $1,000 for one thing and even for that, the foot pedal sometimes can't go backwards (although they will accept page edits).

    One thing about sheet music, even on a DX, is that unless the music is scanned at 150 pixels instead of 300, it can take a few seconds before the page is turned.

    But I've used the DX with the piano often and wished it could be used with a foot pedal. No USB connector, no actuator on the DX, of course.

    I'd no idea Amazon had so many foot pedals. They don't have the Footime though. They do have the Cicada also. Here's a page on the Cicada that focuses on either musician-use or special needs use - Cicada PR.

    It has a blue-tooth dongle USB adapter for computers that don't have bluetooth support.

    But have you seen this? Footime page or score turner, USB - used with laptops, $36.

    Here's a creative use of the Footime, described in a NYT article

    This is a page about the Footime.

    As you say, maybe it could be used with the PageBot and be less cumbersome than a laptop.

    But it seems to have its own actuator to move the page back and forth so it might conflict wiht the PageBot's. If so, then a 10" tablet with USB slot would be an alternative.

    Steve Bain might know if it's possible with the PageBot.

  9. Thanks for the info on the Footime device. It's almost cheap enough to buy just to learn if it works on Linux.


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