Best of Gearcrip
Keep Your Pants On
The PantHook is the solution for the age-old problem of not having enough hands to easily self-cath. A discrete black panel about the size of your palm, the PantHook slides under your cushion; pull the connected hook up and snag your pants and underwear, and it acts like a third hand, keeping them out of the way for easier cathing.
Mark Van Linden, a T10 para from Grand Rapids, Mich., is the brains behind the PantHook. He devised the hook after two-plus years of using a “hideous-looking thing with surgical tubing” that he’d received during his initial rehab. He loved the way the device helped make cathing easier and mess-free, but hated the way it looked. Applying the skills he’s learned in the auto industry, he started prototyping a more discrete replacement in December 2012 and by February of this year he had it down.
The PantHook is already changing Van Linden’s life. When he is not working in his job with the federal government, you can find him in his van, parked by a McDonald’s so he can use the free Wi-Fi to respond to orders and keep building his web site. “This has taken off so fast,” he says. “I can’t keep up with it! It’s like overnight stardom.”
Read Ian Ruder’s product blog, Gearcrip, at newmobility.com/category/blogs/gearcrip.
New & Noted
The Monster Bag backpack is huge! Use it for shopping, laundry, groceries, whatever — it even has side compartments for your copies of NEW MOBILITY. It’s designed to work on both scooter style seats and wheelchairs with push handles. The only scooter it won’t fit on is a Pride GoGo. How big is it? In inches, its compartment is 13 wide, 18 high and 10 deep. Get yours from Diestco, 800/795-2392; www.diestco.com.
The BBraver Handrim
This hot-off-the-press release promises “an innovative handrim that makes using a wheelchair more comfortable and effective — all with a dash of style.” With “an exclusive ergonomic design, a non-slip coating and a quick mounting system,” the new handrims appear to be another solid option for wheelers looking to customize their rides. BBraver, 418/906-3439; www.bbraver.com.
The Acrobat wheel replaces spokes with an adjustable suspension system consisting of three spoke-like shock absorbers attached to a central hub. This is to provide a cushioning effect that dramatically absorbs and lessens the impact transferred to the rider. The goal is to make “the wheel’s hub essentially float in mid-air while suspending the chair’s mass.” Find out more at www.softwheel.technology.
In the Pipeline
Voice recognition technology has improved the lives of thousands, if not millions of people living with paralysis, but to this point it has been of little help to the subsection of that group living with speech impediments or difficulty communicating verbally. That may be about to change thanks to Talkitt, a potentially revolutionary new application that could allow users to communicate freely and independently using a standard tablet or cell phone.
“What makes our technology innovative is that it’s not based on standard speech recognition technology, but rather pattern matching,” says Jessica Eisenberg, marketing manager for Talkitt’s developer, Voiceitt. Each user will calibrate the application before using it, teaching it common phrases and words akin to building a dictionary. Once the software is calibrated, the user can speak into their smartphone or tablet and it will translate their speech into whatever language they desire. “As long as the person has consistent speech, the application can recognize what the pattern is and matches it to the best possible match in their own personal dictionary,” says Eisenberg.
Boston-based Voiceitt has been developing Talkitt for over a year. Co-founder and CEO Danny Weissberg says he was inspired to develop Talkitt when he watched his grandmother struggle to communicate after suffering a stroke. “The most frustrating and painful aspect for her was her inability to communicate. She couldn’t express herself — how she was feeling or what she was thinking. A fundamental part of her life was taken away from her, so we created Talkitt.”
A promotional video on the company’s web site shows a young boy speaking unintelligibly beside his mom who is holding a tablet. The tablet then translates his speech and says “I love you,” prompting the mom to kiss her son.