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Assistive technology

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Augmental, an MIT spinoff, has created MouthPad, a tongue-controlled, computer mouse pad designed for people with disabilities, reports Zoya Hasan and Alex York for Forbes. The device is a “hands-free, custom fit mouthpiece for device control,” explains Hasan and York.


GBH reporter Megan Smith spotlights Open Style Lab, a nonprofit founded at MIT that aims to make fashion more accessible. Yasmin Keats, executive director of Open Style Lab, notes that the organization was founded in 2014 at MIT’s International Design Center to “show what was possible in fashion. We also looked at the importance of design and style and how it can change not only the way that you see yourself — but also looked at how it can be a vehicle to change the way that the world views disability.”


MIT researchers have developed a new robotic gripper that is able to grasp objects using reflexes, reports Mashable. “The Robo-Gripper has proximity and contact sensors which allows it to react to surfaces near objects to better grab them. The technology may allow these machines to be used in homes or other unique, unstructured environments.”


Augmental, an MIT spinoff, has developed MouthPad, an assistive device that provides wearers the ability to control Bluetooth-connected devices using their tongue, reports Haje Jan Kamps for TechCrunch. “The wide variety of control options embedded into the MouthPad means that it can be used in conjunction with many different devices,” writes Kamps.


TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights how MIT researchers have developed a new approach to robotic gripping that incorporates reflexes to help grasp and sort objects. “The new system is built around an arm with two multi-joint fingers,” writes Heater. “There’s a camera on the base and sensors on the tips that record feedback. The system uses that data to adjust accordingly.”


Augmental, a startup co-founded by MIT graduates, has developed a Bluetooth mouthpiece that makes it easier for individuals with mobility issues to use computers, reports WHDH. “People with severe hand impairment are isolated in this world and it’s just not fair,” says co-founder Tomás Vega SM ‘19. “So, our interface seeks to help those people and enable them to access and to share with the world.” 

The Boston Globe

Xander, an MIT spinoff founded by Alex Westner SM ’98, has developed glasses that generate real-time captions of conversations for the wearer, reports Aaron Pressman for The Boston Globe. “The glasses have their own processor and front-facing microphones and are designed to convert conversational speech into text captions,” writes Pressman.

The Wall Street Journal

Alex Westner SM ’98 founded Xander, a company that uses augmented reality in personalized glasses to provide real-time closed captions for people with hearing loss, reports Dalvin Brown for The Wall Street Journal. “The glasses have an embedded display on the right side, where text appears almost as quickly as it’s picked up by a built-in microphone,” writes Brown. “There’s no wireless connection – all processing happens within the glasses.”


MIT researchers have developed a new magnet-based system to monitor muscle movements that could help make prosthetic limbs easier to control, reports Brianna Silva for WHDH.


Open Style Lab, a nonprofit initially started as a summer project at MIT in 2014 that is aimed at making fashion more accessible for people who are disabled, designed clothes for “Double Take,” a fashion event dedicated to raising awareness about the lives and needs of people with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), reports Matthew Herper for STAT

The Wall Street Journal

CSAIL researchers have developed a robotic arm equipped with a sensorized soft brush that can untangle hair, reports Douglas Belkin for The Wall Street Journal. “The laboratory brush is outfitted with sensors that detect tension," writes Belkin. “That tension reads as pain and is used to determine whether to use long strokes or shorter ones.”


PBS Nova premiered “Augmented,” a documentary film that features Prof. Hugh Herr and his research team’s work in developing brain controlled robotic limbs and reimagining amputation procedures. “Herr is teaming up with an injured climber and a surgeon at a leading Boston hospital to test a new approach to surgical amputation that allows prosthetic limbs to move and feel like the real thing,” writes PBS Nova.

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter John Anderson spotlights “Augmented” a new PBS documentary featuring Prof. Hugh Herr and his work in robotic limbs and surgery.

The Boston Globe

A new documentary titled “Augmented” spotlights Prof. Hugh Herr and his work developing bionic limbs at the MIT Media Lab, reports Dana Gerber for The Boston Globe. “The long-term hope for the procedure is that people with Ewing amputations will be able to further adapt to the bionic limbs shown in the film, which Herr’s team is developing at MIT,” writes Gerber.

The New York Times

New York Times reporter Amanda Morris speaks with Eric Baker, an avid outdoorsperson with chronic debilitating joint diseases, about the GRIT Freedom chair, an all-terrain wheelchair invented by MIT researchers. “With the new chair, Mr. Baker hops curbs, hunts, visits the beach, and can cross mud, rocks and gravel,” writes Morris.